Le Havre

Le Havre

(2011)

French comedy, winner of the International Critics Prize at Cannes 2011, following the friendship between a shoeshiner and an illegal immigrant boy.... More

"Marcel Marx, a former author and a well-known Bohemian, has retreated into a voluntary exile in the port city of Le Havre... he has buried his dreams of a literary breakthrough and lives happily within the triangle of his favourite bar, his shoe-shining work, and his wife Arletty, when fate suddenly throws in his path an underage immigrant refugee from darkest Africa.

"As Arletty at the same time gets seriously ill, Marcel has to rise against the cold wall of human indifference with his only weapon: innate optimism and the unwavering solidarity of the people of his quartier. Against him stands the whole blind machinery of the Western constitutionally governed state, this time represented by the dragnet of the police, moment by moment drawing closer around the refugee boy." (Cannes Film Festival 2011)Hide

Flicks Review

Aki Kaurismäki is one of Finland’s finest writer / directors – a master of the absurd with films like Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989); Hamlet Goes Business (1987) and Drifting Clouds (1996). The location may have moved from Helsinki to the French port of Le Havre, but Kaurismäki has lost none of his surreal comic zest in translation.... More

An aging shoe-shiner, Marcel Marx (a superb André Wilms), befriends Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), a young refugee fresh off the boat from Africa and aids him in evading the authorities. A simple plot, yes, but realised in Kaurismäki’s cinematic world-view; in which telephones have rotary dials, cameras sport bulbs and detectives wear hats and long coats. The colours are sumptuously saturated and every frame betrays a careful construction reminiscent of the films of Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Delicatessen and Amélie). Le Havre has never looked so appealing as through cinematographer Timo Salminen’s lens.

Part character comedy, part cat-and-mouse chase, Le Havre effortlessly blends pitch-black Finnish humour with French joie de vivre and absurdist scenes with stark reality. The film is never less than an absorbing, enjoyable, and offbeat drama that offers an ideal introduction to the work of Kaurismäki for the uninitiated and a superb addition for lovers of the Finnish master’s ouvre. It can be slow at times but as an antidote to Hollywood explosions and two-dimensional characterisations, you’d be hard pressed to find a more satisfying and thoroughly entertaining way to entertain your brain.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 2 ratings, 2 reviews
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BY freshdude superstar

Written and directed by Finland's Aki Kaurismaki, who is known for his use of low-key acting and simple story-telling. LE HAVRE definitely has both, and manages to focus on hope, solidarity and kindness while telling a sad yet common story of refugee.
It is definitely a fantasy, and a charming and quirky one at that, full of references and winks to the old European cinema. This film is simply delightful and with a G rating a perfect pick to introduce younger audiences to World Cinema.


BY DnA superstar

It's really hard to place this movie given that it has subtle black humor mingled with quirky, a very real drama, then absurd, and patches of a love story.

As we left the theatre and walked out through the theatre, down the escalator and out onto the street you could hear the usual chatter from movie goers. What was different was the regular outbursts of laughter as you remembered another absurd quirky moment of comedy.

There is a story of love that runs between the Marcel and his wife as... More she journeys through serious health issues living a life of poverty. We follow the Marcel as he ekes out an existence. He crosses paths with a young African boy wanted by authorities as an illegal immigrant and sets about keeping the boy safe while using all his cunning to help the boy to freedom.

I'd give the movie a 3 to 3.5 stars but bumped to 4 for the unusual experience you get from seeing this movie. It takes the viewer on an unusual journey that we don't often get to experience.Hide


The Press Reviews

99% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • Kaurismäki adeptly weaves rockabilly musical interludes, a stylised colourscheme and droll performances into a warm-hearted salute to both classical French cinema and working-class solidarity. Full Review

  • Mixing together some of helmer Aki Kaurismaki's favorite Gallic and Finnish thesps with a few newbies, Le Havre feels like a welcoming family reunion. Full Review

  • Le Havre is a playful parable that conveys profound truths about compassion, humility and sacrifice. It offers proof that miracles do happen - especially in Kaurismaki's lyrically hardscrabble neighborhood. Full Review

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