LE HAVRE (French subtitles)

In this warmhearted portrait of the French harbor city that gives the film its name, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (André Wilms), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoeshiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville and Marcel Carné, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight. (Rotten Tomatoes)
4 out of 5 stars says The Guardian

"a wonderful blend of beautiful framing/lighting/cinematography blended with Tati-esque comedy and Fassbinder-type acting create a surreal world where problems are always around the corner... with the solutions never trailing too far behind. Also a celebration of film, actual film that is, not digital. The film's color palette and graininess seem impossible in digital filmmaking." Manny's blog

Margaret and David say:

Review by Margaret Pomeranz
Aki Kaurismaki, is the Finnish filmmaker with a distinctive style. He makes simply lovely films, always with great heart. His latest, LE HAVRE, is set in the port city in Normandy where shoe-shine man Marcel Marx, ANDRE WILMS, is plying his trade in an ever-increasing world of sneakers. His wife Arletty, KATI OUTINEN, becomes ill, is diagnosed with what one assumes is cancer and is not expected to live. When the doctor assures her that miracles do happen, she replies 'Not in our neighbourhood'. But actually that is exactly what happens.

When Marcel runs across a young illegal immigrant Idrissa, BLONDIN MIGUEL, he hides him from the authorities and rallies the locals to help the boy get to his mother in England. Hard on the heels of the boy is Inspector Monet, JEAN PIERRE DARROUSSIN.

The droll stylization of this working class world is like naïve art as it tells this fairy tale. The design, the performances, the dialogue are all unmistakably Kaurismaki. His affection for his idiosyncratic characters is obvious. And it is a fairy tale, the real world seems to have little of the kindness, the humanity shown in this film.

The response to it in Cannes last year, where it screened in Competition, was extremely warm and that's exactly how you respond to it, it embraces you and you want to hug back.

Further comments


DAVID: And in fact it won the International Critics Award, the Fipresci Award, as best film in Cannes last year.

MARGARET: That's right. Well, it was tipped as one of the potential Golden Palm winners too.

DAVID: Yes. Look, I agree with you too about this film. I love Kaurismaki's films and particularly this one, which is really not about the world as it is but about the world as it ought to be, where people are kind to one another and generous to one another and it's really - it's such an anachronism. You're quite right to use the word "naïve". It's such a deliberately naïve world because, although it's supposed to be taking place today, it looks much more like a whole other era. There's no mobile phones. People use old dial up phones. The modern bar where he drinks, it was probably modern in 1932.


DAVID: And the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, the locals, they're all from maybe the thirties even. I don't know. It's just a beautiful, beautiful story.

MARGARET: Well, these are people that don't have very much in material terms in their world but they have this wonderful generosity about them.

DAVID: Yes, they have a spirit, a neighbourliness. They are lovely.

MARGARET: Oh, it's so beautiful, this film.

DAVID: And the dog, let's have a word for Laika, the dog, too.

MARGARET: But, even talking about it I, sort of like, can feel tears welling up in my eyes.

DAVID: Yes. It's an emotional film.

MARGARET: Because it's sort of like - it's just so beautiful.

DAVID: Yes, it is.

MARGARET: I'm giving it four stars.

DAVID: I'm giving it four and a half. I love it.


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