Films: Le Havre

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Le Havre

Le Havre

Finland, 2011, 103 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Comedy, Cult, Drama, Political, Social Issues
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: French English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Aki Kaurismäki
Producer: Reinhard Brundig
Editor: Timo Linnasalo
Screenwriter: Aki Kaurismaki
Cinematographer: Timo Salminen
Principal Cast: André Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Blondin Miguel, Elina Salo

There’s a certain free-wheeling incongruity to Aki Kaurismäki's Le Havre. While this is Finland’s official entry for best foreign-language film at next year’s Academy Awards, the setting is unmistakably French. And though the stylized cinematography and saturated palette wouldn’t be out of place in a 1960s B-movie, the characters’ concerns are contemporary: terrorist networks, illegal immigration. At the center of it all is shoeshine man Marcel (André Wilms); described by wife Arletty (Kati Outinen) as “a big child,” he’s committed himself to providing safe harbor for Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), a young illegal immigrant from Gabon.

Kaurismäki resists the temptation to turn this narrative into a dour political critique. He populates the port city of Le Havre with a diverse crew of kindly co-conspirators reminiscent of the denizens of Amelie’s Montmartre. These include a matronly baker, an enigmatic Vietnamese immigrant, and “Little Bob”—a real-life icon of the French postpunk movement. A xenophobic informant and a policeman who may or may not be channeling Les Miserables’ Inspector Javert form the opposition. But ultimately Le Havre is a good-natured testament to people doing the right thing.

Sponsored by Los Angeles Film & TV Office- French Embassy and Quebec Government Office in LA

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