How entertaining? ★★★☆☆
Thought provoking? ★★☆☆☆
3 April 2012
This article is a review of LE HAVRE.
“You misunderstand me. I investigate crimes, not taxes or immigration.” Inspector Monet (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) to Marcel Marx (André Wilms)
Aki Kaurismäki’s LE HARVE is so stylised it feels like an alternate reality. The atmosphere is in a similar vein to Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon’s RUMBA and THE FAIRY. Idiosyncrasy is the tone, as well as bundles of charm. Marcel is a happy shoe-shiner, married to the wonderfully thoughtful Arletty (Kati Outinen). They are not at all well off, but seem extremely content. Then over a couple of days Marcel’s world is rocked (only slightly, he always appears so unruffled) by three events that would shake so many:
1. A man handcuffed to a suitcase is killed off camera after Marcel has worked on his shoes;
2. Arletty goes into hospital; and
3. A young illegal immigrant, Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), stowed away in a container, escapes from the authorities and into Marcel’s protection.
“Miracles happen,” Dr. Becker
“Not in my neighbourhood,” Arletty
LE HAVRE is about compassion and community. I am grateful for characters not having to learn life lessons, or go through arcs. Most are fundamentally decent, stay that way, and the surprises only come from how far camaraderie can stretch. The film is full of colour, but is a tad too slight. This would make an enjoyable double-bill with Tom McCarthy’s THE VISITOR.