|Quoc Dung Nguyen|
|Country:||Germany, France, Finland|
|Available Quality:||DivX, iPod|
|IMDB Rating:||7.4 out of 10 (3383 votes)|
You'll know when you're in it.
When an African boy arrives by cargo ship in the port city of Le Havre, an aging shoe shiner takes pity on the child and welcomes him into his home.
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It is estimated that there are between 21.4 and 32.1 illegal immigrantsor 10-15% of the total of all immigrants in the world. How to deal withillegal immigration has been a source of controversy in most Westerncountries and raises many complex political, economic and socialissues. Le Havre, however, the latest film by Finnish director AkiKaurismaki and his first in French, glosses over these thorny issues,turning them instead into a sweet, charming, feel-good odyssey,apparently designed for children who believe in fairy tales and enjoyreading subtitles. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Timo Salminen,the port city has the look and feel of the sixties or seventies.Only the incongruity of cell phones and those annoying contemporarysocial problems intrude on the quaintness. In the film, Marcel Marx(AndrÃ© Wilms), a former bohemian artist and sculptor, incongruouslyshines shoes in Le Havre, France with his co-worker Chang (Vietnameseactor Quoc-dung Nguyen). When his wife Arletty (Kati Outinen), the onlyone in the film with a Finnish accent, is hospitalized with a seriousillness, Marcel finds and takes care of a runaway African boy, Idrissa(Blondin Miguel), an illegal immigrant who escaped from a shippingcontainer that had been sitting on the dock for weeks due to a computermix-up.Idrissa is being relentlessly pursued by detective Monet (Jean-PierreDarroussin), another of Kaurismaki's morose characters, but isprotected by Marcel's neighbors, the owners of the local bar, bakery,and fruit stand, even though providing shelter for an illegal immigrantis prohibited by law. Idrissa is a cipher who is given few lines todeliver, shows no emotion, and whose role in the film adds nothing towhat we know about the plight of illegal immigrants. Totem poles havecommunicated more. To raise the money needed for Idrissa's passage toLondon to be reunited with his mother, a charity rock concert is puton, headed by Little Bob (Robert Piazza), a local rock star, providingthe audience with a diverting if extraneous musical interlude.The sub-plot ends in an uplifting contrivance that does not generateeven a modicum of authenticity. In Le Havre, France is depicted as theland of miracle cures, a country where police have compassion for blackchildren, especially if they are illegal immigrants. Don't get mewrong, I believe in miracles, goodness, warmth, wholesomeness, and allthe good stuff in life. I even think its okay to help our fellow man,as long as you don't get carried away. Here, however, the only goodstuff that happened is that I was able to resist being force fed oncinematic sugar.While I think there is certainly room for films to create the space fora new culture of openness and caring where protection of a child ismore important than enforcing a morally dubious law, and whereneighbors act as a community to do the right thing, the transformationof society must be built on a more solid foundation, that of truth,integrity, and spiritual connection, none of which are present in thisfilm.Medical doctors act in contradiction to their sworn oath, Marcel, whopreviously warned Idrissa to stay in the house at all times, sends himon an errand to the hospital alone, compromising the safety he vowed toprotect. When his wife tells him she will be in the hospital for a longtime, Marcel asks no questions, demands no answers, appearsunconcerned, and rarely visits. When a man is shot near his shoeshinestand at a train station, he makes a flip remark about how happy he wasto be paid before the killing but shows no concern or compassion forthe victim, does not call 911, or otherwise become involved.Unanticipated medical cures, when they do occur, do not arise from thinair like Shakespeare's plays, but from a deep well of spiritualconnection and high intention, neither of which are in evidence in thissituation. Fantasy, of course, has its place but when issues ofsociological and ideological significance are present, reducing theissues to good guys versus bad guys removes the viewer from the worldthey inhabit. Though well-intentioned, Le Havre trivializes complexissues, circumvents others, and ends up being as safe and comfortableas Puss n' Boots.
Le Havre was a joy to watch for me. When I thought about why I liked itso much, I concluded that it returned me to so many of the joyfulmoments of pictures of the past, riding the clichÃ©'s but at the sametime hiding them. As a homage to films past, the film maker never isobvious, but builds his film as if all of the happy moments of pastfilms, never happened. A child being pursued by evil forces. A grandpalike figure coming to the rescue. A medical miracle. A show put on toraise needed funds with an incomprehensible rock star, not a MickeyRooney to produce a barn raising musical. A neighborhood comingtogether to help save a child from deportation. The film maker gives itall to a jaundiced post modern idea of what film making should be, andpeople who never want to go home. The movie is technically brilliant,color and photography that show a shabby French port as the land of Oz.Actors who know how to make you love their characters. A delight. Seeit.
I have just watched this film as part of the "Flatpack Festival" inBirmingham, at the Midlands Art Centre. This film is very watchable.The audience of about 80 seemed to enjoy it and some of them evenapplauded at the end. This must be Finland's Aki Kaurismacki's bestfilm to date. The acting, by lesser known actors, is really very goodand the direction and cinematography are stunning. The story line issimple to understand but interesting and very well written (byKaurismacki himself). This film deserves large audiences.I won't go into the plot because it would spoil it for those who wantto see how the story develops from the start to the finish. I found theending to be unpredictable. Will it be happy or sad? Full of joy orleaving the audience bemused or confused? All I can say is "wait andsee".The film, to me, has just the right balance of seriousness and humour.Some of the "one-liners" are true gems. The whole thing is a story ofordinary folk and how they deal with certain events. It even has somerock 'n roll! My advice is to look out for it at your local cinema,make an effort to see it and, hopefully, enjoy it like I did.
Protagonist is Marcel Marx, A Shoeshiner, who makes a peaceful livingwith his wife Arletty and a dog Laika in city of Le Havre. Heincidentally meets an African boy, Idrissa, who is being sought byFrench authorities as illegal immigrant. Marcel opens his doors to theboy and helps him make his way to join his mother across the water inLondon.Despite the complication of Arletty's terminal illness, about whichMarcel is not aware, the snooping of grim-faced inspector Monet, andthe machinations of the neighborhood snitch, with the help of neighborsand friends that Marcel was deeply in debt to forgive everything forIdrissa, Marcel tries to help the boy.Kudos to Aki KaurismÃ¤ki, the director of Le Havre, for his directorialtalent he has exhibited in this movie. No loose ends, characterizationand usage of every character is excellent and has kept it very simpleby all means.Once in while you get to watch such an optimistic film that shows love,respect and tolerance for one another in a very simple and practicalmanner.Follow Us @ : https://www.facebook.com/theworldmoviejournalReviews @ : http://theworldmoviejournal.wordpress.com/
Long ago I used to be a fan of Aki Kaurismaki's films, but his latestfilms just go on my nerves. What used to be fresh is now only painfullyrepetitive. Like this film, which is so naive, false, pretentious andridiculous, combined with poor storytelling and direction. Of coursethe actors, like Andre Wilms and his dog, are good and thecinematography is flawless, but I can't really understand, that seriouspeople take this film seriously and some find it even a work of agenius! It seems that what ever he does, some people hail without anycloser analysis. Le Havre's message is of course human and important,but it's completely wasted, the film doesn't do justice to its subjectmatter. It's just mediocre in every respect.
Over the weekend I've watched two distinctly cinema-homage films. I saythis to justify comparing Simon Pegg's Paul to Aki KaurismÃ¤ki's LeHavre, two films that might otherwise incomparable. I found Le Havrewarm but occasionally baffling, which is as much a measure of myignorance as of KaurismÃ¤ki's tenacity to older compositional styles andnarratives.The one clear reference that I couldn't miss was that of naming theprotagonist's wife Arletty. Le Havre plays out rather like a floatinganalogy of a resistance drama, much like Marcel CarnÃ©'s Les Enfants duParadis, whence comes Arletty, the soul of the film, of France.Elsewhere I liked the heavily studied composition of many of the shotsalthough they didn't always add up aesthetically and the inconsistencyof this was distracting. For a film that's so aware of cinema, it wascuriously lacking in self-awareness. 5/10
I made the mistake of watching this (and hence costing me 93 minutes ofmy life) just because it garnered a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Iwish to deter anyone else from wasting time on this movie.A Family Guy character once said "It's either bad meat or goodcheese...". Likewise, Le Havre is either a bad movie or good art.The acting is pretty bad, especially from the Gabonese boy.I don't know if this was supposed to be some sort of a throwbacktribute to movies from a half-century ago, but the facial close ups andthe dramatic and exaggerated actions (e.g. when the Gabonese boy runsfrom the container) were just a total bore and highly unamusing.The RT summary says "Aki KaurismÃ¤ki's deadpan wit hits a graceful notewith Le Havre, a comedy/drama that's sweet, sad, and uplifting in equalmeasure." I could see the deadpan. But not the wit, nor the sweetness,nor the sadness, nor was I uplifted in anyway. I was just deeplyannoyed.But of course, I didn't major in film history during college, so whatwould I know?Edit: I forgot to mention the bit where the wife is in hospital and herfriends read her Kafka. I think I was supposed to go: "Oooh ... Kafka... this must be a deep and profound movie."
(Read the full review at http://nickplusmovies.blogspot.com)I started off my experience at this year's Toronto International FilmFestival with Aki KaurismÃ¤ki's "Le Havre", a rather obscure, smallproduction that was competing for the Palme d'Or at Cannes (it wasTerrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" that was the big winner). Thequestion is: Did I start off on the right foot? Read on to find out..."Le Havre" centers on an elderly, working-class shoe shiner namedMarcel Marx (played by AndrÃ© Wilms), living with his loving wifeArletty (Kati Outinen) in the French port city of... Le Havre. Althoughhis profession only leaves him with enough money to get by, he nevergives up hope and always finds great joy and warmth in all the peoplein his life-- be it his friendly, selfless, next-door neighbor or thekind owner of the local bar. Marcel's life takes a bit of a turn whenhe must send his ill wife to the hospital, hoping she will get bettersoon. But that's not it-- soon after, when he finds himself alone,eating a sandwich at the harbor, he discovers a young African boy namedIdrissa (Blondin Miguel) hiding in the water. Marcel befriends him andlearns that he had been hiding with many other illegal immigrants in ashipping container, with hopes of arriving in London to meet up withhis aunt. The old man voluntarily goes out of his way to keep him awayfrom authorities and completely out of sight, but soon, this situationquickly transforms into a cat-and-mouse game, lead by the persistent,intimidating, wolf- like police inspector Monet (Jean-PierreDarroussin).With its simplistic plot, clearly defined characters, and invitingsetting, this film has all the qualities and characteristics of a greatshort film-- if you don't count its feature-length runtime. Is this abad thing? Hardly! I find that this makes the film all the moreabsorbing and enjoyable, though slow in progression at times and thusable to make your average modern-day moviegoer lose interest. But Istill believe that sometimes, it's nice to just sit down and follow anaturally flowing, straightforward story, when most of the movies yousee today are flashy and overly stimulating to the point where theybore you. "Le Havre" is something refreshingly different, for a change.Rarely do films combine comedy with drama in such a natural,uncontrived way. With this film, Aki KaurismÃ¤ki proves to be one of thefew working directors able to pull off a mixture of dark, ironic, anddeadpan humor while maintaining the same upbeat, cheerful, andoptimistic tone throughout the entire film. A great example of thisguy's exemplary sense of humor is the opening scene of the film, wherewe see Marcel going around with his shoe shining materials, looking fora paying customer. He finally lucks out when he approaches a suspiciouslooking type holding a suitcase in his hand. As he shines this man'sshoes, we see two other mysterious figures watching from a distance.It's clear that something's up. When Marcel finishes his job, the manpays him and quickly tries to escape. But it's too late; we heargunshots, a tire squeal, and a scream as the camera lingers on Marcel,whose facial expression remains pleasant. He simply says: "Luckily hehad time to pay.". Of course, since it's more of a visual gag, it'smuch funnier when you see it for yourself. Having said that, there's nodenying that this film has very smart comedic elements.What I love just as much-- if not, more-- about this little film is howauthentic and down-to-earth the characters are in their interactions.Every scene is made into such an accurate portrait of life thanks toall of the real, human performances from the entire cast oflesser-known actors. The only thing that threw me off was how thecouple of Finnish actors in the film let their accents slip through asthey were speaking French. But this would be barely noticeable forthose of you who don't speak either one of these languages.Although this film is Finnish, it's obvious that it's shot on locationin France. I was breathless as I got to admire the beauty of the oceanand the quaint coziness of the old city buildings. Sadly, this is theclosest I've ever gotten to visiting France! No wonder these sightstook me away.In sum, Aki KaurismÃ¤ki's "Le Havre" is a simple, human tale thatremains light and pleasant while brushing on topics of illegalimmigration and the illness of a loved-one. It's a soulful film thatmixes smart humor with true emotion, without ever feeling artificial. Irecommend looking for this hidden gem. You might just like it.
In 1992, Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki directed LA VIE DE BOHEME,where he transplanted to Paris for a story of impoverished, failedartists on the cusp of society. A funny, sad film about art, love, andloss. Nearly twenty years later, Kaurismaki returns to France in LEHAVRE; while some of the humor remains, its story of the impoverishedand dispossessed is even more affecting.LA VIE... showed a painterly visual sense, all the more amazing that itwas filmed in black and white. LE HAVRE boasts an equally strikingvisual sense, with scenes that seem to glow. That said, other elementsof the production are less convincing - and at times. almostembarrassing. (For example, a group of black refugees are locked in acontainer crate for almost a week; when it's opened, no one's hungry oreven concerned, and several are freshly shaved.) LE HAVRE sets up the camera in a stationary spot - much like an oldsilent - giving the film a real resonance. But this affection for olderfilmmaking will be familiar for Kaurismaki fans; his silent, black andwhite JUHA uses the same minimalistic approach, with good results. If you're willing to forgive certain production details and thedependence on melodrama, LE HAVRE is a feel-good story of how those ofmodest means can help those in desperate straits. (LE HAVRE itself wasdirected under low budget.) The film's humanism is its saving grace.While the filmmaking is occasionally awkward, there's still a lot to beadmired here.
These days it seems that French films predominantly fit into one of twocategories: Smug, over long and preachy, such as Rust and Bone orLittle White Lies. Or they produce deeply involving but simplisticstories containing the most genuine heartfelt emotion such as Amour (inFrench, therefore French) or The Kid with a Bike. I am happy to saythat Le Havre falls in the latter group. In fact the story here is oneof pure simplicity and the tone of the film contains nothing butgenuine optimism towards the theme of human compassion. That is it,this film has no ulterior motive or no gimmicks, and it is a verysimply and extremely involving story based around that one simpletheme. However, this film is not just a tribute to human compassion,but contained within it are tributes to the history of cinema that arequite simply a joy to experience. When I say that, the use of music aswell the way certain scenes are lit pay a respectful tribute to filmsof the 40s and 50s throughout the narrative. This is not to say that this film is not without its realism, Marx andhis neighbours all live a humble life bordering on poverty. The plightof Idrissa is unenviable and there is an honest depiction of a refugeecamp just outside Calais. However, the theme of Le Havre is not thatlife is simply good, that would be naive. It is how these charactersdeal with life and the situations that it presents. Of course it wouldbe so easy to fall into to the trap of patronising and borderlinepreachy clichÃ© here, but this never happens due to the genuine feelingof honesty depicted throughout the narrative. Every character ispresented very honestly with all their flaws quite clear to see, but itis their ability for natural compassion that drives the narrativeforward. By the time Le Havre reaches its very satisfying conclusionwhere there are no loose ends, it is difficult not to feel that notonly have you been entertained, but also enlightened.
A well dressed man with an attache' case handcuffed to his wrist hashis shoes shined and then walks toward a train platform and we hear ascream. the man who has polished his loafers is Marcel, who tells anearby friend that they better leave before the law arrive and askquestions.Marcel then is forcefully evicted for plying his trade in front of astore and continues his rounds, finally stopping for bread on his wayhome to his wife and dog. Before dinner, he takes mans best friend fora walk and visits a local bar for a night cap.Next, a group of police officers and Red Cross workers arrive at ashipping container and when it is opened they discover a group of blackimmigrants stowed away inside. A small boy runs from them and escapes.Marcel sees him under a bridge and offers him food and water.Unfortunately, the officials are nearby and ask Marcel if he has seenthe escapee and he says no.Back to the bar where Marcel has a conversation with his friend, Changabout his legal status. Chang tells him that he was easily able topurchase fake identification papers in order to remain in France.Marcel's wife is admitted to the hospital for tests for severeabdominal pain and when her husband returns home he finds the runawayhiding there. He feeds Idrissa, and the child tells him that he is onhis way to England to reunite with his mother.A nosy neighbor looking out his window sees the hideaway and calls thepolice. A woman friend, Yvette, agrees to hide and take care of Idrissawhile Marcel travels to Calais to a refugee camp and the boysgrandfather tells him that his daughter is in London and has a good jobthere.In the meantime, the law is in hot pursuit of the dangerous littlecriminal, who has made the local press. Marcel arranges for a boat totransport Idrissa to Britain but needs $3,000 Euros. The townspeoplerally together for a benefit concert to raise the cash. The conclusionis somewhat sentimental but can be overlooked for the positiveredeeming message of this film.
This is a sweet, lightly intoxicating thing like a small glass ofcalvados under the wisteria in the evening. Kaurismaki has aged and hisoutcast and misfit characters aged with him, the quirks mellowed, theferocious smoking toned down, the lines in the sometimes quietlyastonished stone faces deeper, wearier, but imbued with almost asceticserenity. Some viewers have complained, why trivialize an actual problem in themanner of a fairy tale? A fair complaint for a problem perhaps morepressing than ever, especially in France and especially these days,with Sarkozi's desperate attempt to shore up votes for what looks likenear-certain defeat in the upcoming elections by reverting toreactionary rhetorics from the far-right. No, I believe the fairy-tale is the point. The idyllic neighborhood.The mannered caricatures of French people, with even the poorest havingthe time and fine sense of taste to leisurely enjoy their freshly bakedbaguette or glass of wine. The miraculous turn of events, explicitlyacknowledged in the finale where kindness of this world is sooverwhelming it even cures sickness. How could anyone miss this?But a certain emptiness has always been of the essence for Kaurismaki,deliberate, designed emptiness. The world is always flat to that effect, two-dimensional. Thecharacters lack any conventional depth to speak of and do not reallygrow or learn lessons. By contrast, the plots of the films oftenexhibit a life of spontaneous motion, the objectives intentionallyabstract, journeys across town, to America, in search of coffee andcigarettes. Motion for the sheer musical capacity of life to fill thequiet, the room in the heart to do so.So it is always a variation of transient worlds centered in thestillness of the present moment that Kaurismaki has studied andconsistently delivered. What is so remarkable is that he achieves thiswithout any layering whatsoever, as a single flow. This is his most Japanese film to date, even more concentrated flowthan usual. Which is to say artificial nature that does not attempt topass for the real thing but instead is empty space cultivated forbeauty, a road-map for inner heart.(I saw this together with the recent viral video KONY2012 and thecontrast was amazing: that one, shameless artifice passing as nature,as truth, the real thing, contriving to motivate awareness severalyears after the fact and by selling merchandise, but was in truth bothmisinformed and morally dubious and even perhaps unwittinglymanipulated agitprop in the service of shady foreign policy, while thisone is simple, crisp, gracefully moral work, that does create awarenesswithout any agendas.)So it is very much the point that no one in the film is shown to wallowin misery, and most of the characters we meet would have plenty ofreason to do so. Instead they enjoy this drink or meal together,whatever is at hand. And act with no complaint in the present moment todo what needs to be done. There is no meddlesome thought or proud egoto cloud the mind from the day's work, be it polishing shoes or helpingout an immigrant kid.This is the beauty of the thing: an idyll embedded with the purity ofsoul that gives rise to it and clear images only possible because ofthis cloudless eye. The parting image is of a blossomed cherry tree gently rocking in thebreeze, among the most traditionally Japanese images. It encapsulates motion in stillness. The song of Zen.
To my great pleasure, I have just seen this film. So, my impression andpositive feelings, which I got from the movie, haven't vanished yet. To describe it, well, I couldn't say this film has a very deep meaning,I couldn't say it offers some philosophic ideas to contemplate, Icouldn't even say it's logic in every way. As a matter of fact, thefilm could be accused of being just an empty, trendy imitation of thepast. A past, which has actually never existed, and which is just anunreal image of our imagination, created by idealizing times which havealready gone. But, to my great surprise, I still enjoy watching it.It's because I enjoy seeing such nice imitation, such nice image oflife, which consists of a lot of idealism, which is idyllic and evenUtopian. I bet many people miss idealism in their lives and this filmjust gives them what they want. As it is known, the concept of everymovie is to imitate the reality, even create a new reality, whichconsists of things which we lack in our real life. It's just likecinema genius Alfred Hitchcock said long time ago: "the cinema is not aslice of life, but a piece of cake". So this stands for the fact thefilm is good.Being more certain, I like ÂLe havre", because it's nice to watch it.Every set is selected precisely. Voices of actors sound pleasantly.Everything is full of harmony in this film: characters communicateoften, they help each other when troubles come in the movie. Marcel'swife does a lot for her husband, she doesn't even tell him she's dying(in order to protect him from suffering). Marcel does a lot for lovetoo. He helps immigrant boy to find his origin. Every resident of Lehavre town stand together for the boy, they stand for love, for idealand they manage to defeat the troubles, the threats which come fromoutside world. Of course, they do this, they show their idealism nottoo much, the film is not too Âsugary'. The mechanism is quiteopposite, it's something like Âless is more": less feelings, showedexactly in the right time are less banal, more real, more influential.Some people may laugh, find humor in some episodes of the film, some,especially those who are insensitive may find ÂLe havre" vast. Thosewho tend to conceal their feelings, may even hate the film. But it'sjust as they say Â you love it, you hate it Â it's the same, you simplycan't manage without it. So that's why the film is suitable for a verywide range of people Â I guarantee everyone would be affected by it oneway or another.
I wanted to like this Aki KaurismÃ¤ki's new film, and in a way I did,but I can't resist doing some commentary on the subtext that may notplease everyone. The story is naive, at best. There's nothing wrongabout a fairytale for adults that encourages helping a fellow man, butlike always, the devil is in the detail. Take for example the imaginaryseaside town of Le Havre, in France. Because of the Euro bills and cellphones it's made clear the story takes place in present time, buteverything, including the people and their attitudes, is straight outof World War 2 and the Nazi occupation. I have a pretty good hunchthat's what they were aiming for, too. It's beyond silly to thinkEurope's, especially France's, attitude towards Muslim immigration islike that.Because of what looks like a plot contrivance, the refugee kid is senton a chore that has its consequences. I can say "magical Negro", can I?It's a term describing borderline offensive stereotype common inWestern films, that does no good to anyone. The shoe shiner never evenbothers asking clerical help from his own church, because all they dois argue about topics they don't know (as shown in one scene). How"politically correct" can you get? If someone made a film like thisabout A Christian refugee in a totalitarian nation, the outcry ofprotests would never end. But it's a well made film. Thecinematography, for instance, leaves little to complain about. Go seefor yourselves. Laika is the director's own dog.
It's all so familiar: The shabby, old worn interiors, the far frompicturesque scenery, those slightly patina-covers images with theirdirty soft colors, the slowness, those long shots which are hardly morethan stills, even the hairdos. Not only do Aki KaurismÃ¤ki's films havea very distinctive look and feel, they all have this quality ofwatching something that is not quite there. Nostalgia is the wrongword, but his films and more so his characters have fallen out of time.They are creatures of the past, but the present they end up in is notquite the present we know either. There is a timeless quality or rathera different sense of time in the slow movements, the museum-likeatmosphere, the silence. More often than not KaurismÃ¤ki's charactersare not exactly talkers. So it is no surprise that Le Havre looks a lotlike Helsinki but there sure is a lot more talking going on.At the end of the day, Le Havre both is and is not a typicalKaurismÃ¤ki. It is his most upbeat and optimistic film to date. Gone ismost of his trademark melancholia, the despair many of his protagonistshave to fight and sometimes succumb to. On the other hand, his filmshave never been as cynical, hopeless or pessimistic as the occasionalviewer may think. On the contrary, underlying his work has always beena basic belief in the goodness of humankind - at least theunderprivileged part of it, those on the outskirts of society. Andthere always has been a fairy-tale quality in many of his films. LeHavre can be regarded as the culmination of both: a truly optimisticfairy-tale, a story about goodness which well may be too good to betrue. But maybe it is not.AndrÃ© Wilms reprises his role from KaurismÃ¤ki's 1992 film La Vie deBohÃ¨me, however, Marcel, the unsuccessful writer, has turned into ashoe cleaner - a profession that belongs to a different time, too. Oneday he finds an African boy who escaped when the police found thecontainer in which he and dozens of others tried to get to London. Hetakes him in and eventually gets him to London. Meanwhile, Marcel'swife (the wonderfully dignified sad angel Kati Outinen) is diagnosedwith a fatal sickness which she refuses to tell Marcel about. Don't besurprised though, if a miracle is in the making here, too.This may be a run-down, shabby world but it is inhabited by the bestkind of people one could imagine. And they're not flat characters, butfull-blooded sinners with exceptionally good hearts. This is, afterall, a fairy tale with a fairy tale ending but it is also more - acelebration of the human spirit, of goodness in the face of adversity,a beautiful vision of what the world could be if we all tried a littleharder to do the right thing.At the same time, KaurismÃ¤ki never loses sight of the evil humans do toeach other. TV excerpts and a relentless police hunt highlight theplights of immigrants in today's France and elsewhere. if there is amessage here it is that each of us must start in their own lives to dogood, only then do we have a chance to make this place we call earth alittle better. It is a simple message but told like this it is hard toescape its grip. And who ever said that answers cannot be simplesometimes?KaurismÃ¤ki creates beautiful as well as memorable images, mostly stillssuch as the one in the harbour with the boy in the front and Marcel inthe background. An image of longing and also of togetherness. The mostintense scene occurs when the container is opened and the camera goesfrom face to face. All turns quiet, a choking silence that is hardlybearable. And eyes who tell stories that could fill books.Not all is dead serious though, there is a playful element to thisfilm. KaurismÃ¤ki starts it with a wonderfully clichÃ© noir scene andends it in n equally cheesy melodrama. Don't take me too seriously, wemight hear him say, I'm just throwing some ideas at you. Catch them ifyou like.http://stagescreen.wordpress.com/
The natural flowing of this simple movie, where no excesses are to benoticed ,may make one judge it as a weird movie, where somethingactually happens, but does seem to affect the lives of the characters.This is not properly true. Indeed, this is a simple movie, with no plottwists, no complications, but here does it lie its magic. It's a moviewhere "normal", common people simply accept their lives for what theyare, which does not mean in a passive way, on the contrary they provemorally resilient people, who relate one another in an authentic way,behave as honest and fair people (so difficult to find people likethese nowadays, that they look so strange!) they face bad things withdignity, and good things with no easy enthusiasm. Its best quality liesin the perfect and never clashing blend between hard facts (thehardships of immigrants, the theme of illness) and poetry, with a humanfaith in miracles which never sounds ridiculous or mystical: miracleshappen simply because sometimes they may happen, and there's not evenmuch to wonder at. There's such a placid attitude shown by thecharacters, very well interpreted by a good cast, that if the aim wasto convey a calm and resilient acceptance of life, with its weirdmixture of hardness and poetry, well, the aim has been successfullyaccomplished.
This is a sweet, lightly intoxicating thing like a small glass ofcalvados under the wisteria in the evening. Kaurismaki has aged and hisoutcast and misfit characters aged with him, the quirks mellowed, theferocious smoking toned down, the lines in the sometimes quietlyastonished stone faces deeper, wearier, but imbued with almost asceticserenity. Some viewers have complained, why trivialize an actual problem in themanner of a fairy tale? A fair complaint for a problem perhaps morepressing than ever, especially in France and especially these days,with Sarkozi's desperate attempt to shore up votes for what looks likenear-certain defeat in the upcoming elections by reverting toreactionary rhetorics from the far-right. No, I believe the fairy-tale is the point. The idyllic neighborhood.The mannered caricatures of French people, with even the poorest havingthe time and fine sense of taste to leisurely enjoy their freshly bakedbaguette or glass of wine. The miraculous turn of events, explicitlyacknowledged in the finale where kindness of this world is sooverwhelming it even cures sickness. How could anyone miss this?But a certain emptiness has always been of the essence for Kaurismaki,deliberate, designed emptiness. The world is always flat to that effect, two-dimensional. Thecharacters lack any conventional depth to speak of and do not reallygrow or learn lessons. By contrast, the plots of the films oftenexhibit a life of spontaneous motion, the objectives intentionallyabstract, journeys across town, to America, in search of coffee andcigarettes. Motion for the sheer musical capacity of life to fill thequiet, the room in the heart to do so.So it is always a variation of transient worlds centered in thestillness of the present moment that Kaurismaki has studied andconsistently delivered. What is so remarkable is that he achieves thiswithout any layering whatsoever, as a single flow. This is his most Japanese film to date, even more concentrated flowthan usual. Which is to say artificial nature that does not attempt topass for the real thing but instead is empty space cultivated forbeauty, a road-map for inner heart.(I saw this together with the recent viral video KONY2012 and thecontrast was amazing: that one, shameless artifice passing as nature,as truth, the real thing, contriving to motivate awareness severalyears after the fact and by selling merchandise, but was in truth bothmisinformed and morally dubious and even perhaps unwittinglymanipulated agitprop in the service of shady foreign policy, while thisone is simple, crisp, gracefully moral work, that does create awarenesswithout any agendas.)So it is very much the point that no one in the film is shown to wallowin misery, and most of the characters we meet would have plenty ofreason to do so. Instead they enjoy this drink or meal together,whatever is at hand. And act with no complaint in the present moment todo what needs to be done. There is no meddlesome thought or proud egoto cloud the mind from the day's work, be it polishing shoes or helpingout an immigrant kid.This is the beauty of the thing: an idyll embedded with the purity ofsoul that gives rise to it and clear images only possible because ofthis cloudless eye. The parting image is of a blossomed cherry tree gently rocking in thebreeze, among the most traditionally Japanese images. It encapsulatesmotion in stillness.
Le Havre is a film from Finland in French with English subtitles. Thefilm focuses on a middle aged man named Marcel, who makes a livinggoing around town and working as a shoe shiner. Business is not alwaysgreat and at home Marcel lives a very simple life with his much adoredwife, Arletty. One day a group of refugees are found in town and one ofthem, a young boy named, Idrissa escapes and is wanted by the localchief inspector and the police. Marcel one day stumbles across the boyand shows kindness to him and the next thing he knows, Idrissa shows upat his home. The rest of the story is about how out of his way, Marcelwill go to hide and protect the boy from the police and to find a wayto get him back with his family. Le Havre is a great film on severaldifferent levels. The acting here from the whole cast is all very goodhere and just their facial expressions and deadpan looks say a lot evenwhen there is nothing in particular to be said. They convey thefeelings and thoughts and emotions of their characters perfectly. Thedirection and writing of this film by Aki Kaurismaki is also a realdelight here. He provides us with some very interesting characters anda good story to use and put them to work in. I also found that the filmhad just the right blend of humour and drama. Ultimately this is a feelgood film and I think almost anybody who watches it will leave feelingvery happy and joyful. The story and events in the film are simpleenough and nothing is done to extravagance, but I think what really gotme about the whole thing was the kindness not only Marcel, but hisfriends and neighbours, show to Idrissa, knowing that if they arecaught, they too could be in a lot of trouble. It was really refreshingto see these characters live their simple yet happy lives and findhappiness in things we take for granted and how when one needs help,they will be the first ones there to lend a hand and offer support.They work together well as a community and more than that they aregreat friends and neighbours who look out for each other. That was whatI really thought got me about Le Havre, the basic message of thekindness of strangers and being the good Samaritan and helping out yourfellow man. The film I might add is also quite a good looking film andI really admired it's cinematography. At one time it shows buildingsand homes in bright primary colours and then goes to show us bleak andolder homes that are a bit run down and much more simple. The colourscheme and the effect of this further added to my appreciation of thefilm and how these characters live. The cinematography actuallyreminded me of the works of French cinematographer Raoul Coutard, whosework I came to know and love in Jean-Luc Godard's films such asContempt (which looks absolutely exquisite on it's Blu Ray release),but now back to Le Havre. This is a film where much joy and laughtercan be had, but also gives us hope for each other and the human race.The film may be a little unrealistic in that regard of showing thegoodness in people, but any film that has that as it's central messageand gives us something to not only think about, but to feel good aboutafter is a winner in my books. It may even get you to re-evaluate yourown attitudes and perspectives on things, so keep an open mind whilewatching. This is one of the most entertaining and inspiring films of2011 and also one of the best.
Aki KaurismÃ¤ki is the extreme left-leaning Finnish director hell benton satisfying every raving Francophile's dream. With 'Le Havre' he'soutdone even the most radical of today's French libertarians byfashioning a tale of a never-say-die, radical liberal curmudgeon, outto save victimized third worlders from the clutches of a 'fascistic'police state (for KaurismÃ¤ki that of course includes the Catholicchurch).Our curmudgeon hero in question is Marcel, whose surname KaurismÃ¤kiunsubtly dubs 'Marx'. A self-described Bohemian, Marcel used to be abourgeoisie writer but now shines shoes for a living, obviously sharingan affinity with his working class associates (Marcel's shoe shinepartner is an undocumented alien from Vietnam who carries a fake ID).Marcel is also a free-loader, often taking food from neighborhoodshopkeepers on credit, with no intention of satisfying his debts. Theneighbors tolerate him as Marcel's wife, Arletty (named after thelegendary French actress of 'Children of Paradise' fame), appears to bea pleasant, unassuming type and soon become much more sympathetic asshe falls ill (with cancer) and has to be hospitalized.The inciting incident occurs when the police find a shipping containerloaded with African immigrants at a dock in Le Havre. A young boy,Idrissa, runs away and a police officer is about to shoot him with anautomatic weapon (only to be stopped by kindly police inspector Monet,who instructs the officer not to fire since he's only a child).Wouldn't you guess but Marcel and Idrissa's paths cross and soonenough, Marcel is committed to helping the boy. He travels a long wayto a detention center where he finds the boy's grandfather who informshim that Idrissa's mother is now living in London (believe it or not,'Le Havre' is billed as a comedy and KaurismÃ¤ki finds it amusing thatthe warden at the detention believes Marcel when he claims he'sIdrissa's Albino uncle!).The curmudgeon, now turned unstoppable hero, must find a way to hideIdrissa since the big, bad police are after him. He asks one of theneighborhood shopkeepers, to hide the boy, and she graciously compliesby safeguarding him in her apartment above her shop. Anothershopkeeper, initially cross with Marcel, now gives him loads of foodfor the beleaguered Idrissa. In contrast to what happened in World WarII, average Frenchmen here are depicted as natural humanitarians whowill even break the law in the name of justice. Only governmentofficials, backed by the aforementioned bad guy police force and areactionary clergy, stand in the way of Idrissa's liberation.Marcel needs a ton of cash to have Idrissa transported by boat to hismother in London, so he dreams up the idea of a benefit rock concert.All he has to do is convince a local pop star to perform but first mustbring the pop star and his wife back together after they've had alover's spat (again, we're supposed to laugh when Marcel reconciles thetwo wounded lovebirds).After Marcel raises the cash and brings Idrissa to the boat, InspectorMonet shows up (as he's done throughout the film) and makes it clearthat he's thoroughly on Marcel's side. When the police come on board,he pulls rank and pretends that Idrissa isn't below, in the hold of theboat. One is reminded of the scene in 'Casablanca', where InspectorRenault covers for Rick who has just shot Major Strasser. Just as Monetmisdirects his police officers, Renault misdirects the Germans byordering them to "round up the usual suspects".Earlier, we see Monet reassuring the Prefect inside the church thathe's determined to catch the boy but it's obvious that he has nointention of keeping his word to the religious authorities (seen hereas in league with the 'devil' police state). Funny how Monet so easilyis determined to risk his entire career for this one boy and joinforces with the disgruntled Marcel. You'll also notice that KaurismÃ¤kidare not suggest that any of the Africans that he introduces us to, areanything but upstanding, saintly citizens.To top it off, KaurismÃ¤ki cannot allow his audience to experience anyof the hard knocks we might encounter during our travails in life. Inthe shockingly sentimental ending, Marcel's wife who has a terminaldiagnosis, miraculously is cured and returns home with Marcel,presumably to put up with his never-ending curmudgeonly ways.As a registered Democrat, I am generally sympathetic to liberal causes.However, when some of my more radical left leaning brethren decide totwist reality by proffering up fairy tales of victimization andundeserved heroes sticking up for straw men victims, I can hardlyremain silent. Le Havre is watchable to see just how far its misguideddirector will go in peddling such a self-righteous, sentimental leftwing fairy tale.
Being my all time favourite director, i had really high expectationsfor this film, but after watching it few times can say i'm ratherdisappointed. Cinematographically it's flawless, and this is somethingthat Kaurismaki has refined over the years: the scenes, the lights andthe colors. On the other hand the story; still has this special mixtureof simplicity, absurdity and realism, But it's mostly the childpersonage that bothers me, because it draws too much empathy from thepublic, which I think is a cheap-trick for such a great director. WhatI like about his "loser" characters is that I can laugh at theirsufferings Â here this is not so much the case. It appears "tolerant";"politically correct", clichÃ©s that are appealing for wider public. Hehas always been nostalgic in a very ironic way; this time it seems tome he's just getting oldÂ