Le Havre

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Who'd have thought Aki Kaurismki (The Man Without a Past) would find his mid-'90s groove again with an extended tribute to WWII resistance movies? Threading his trademark deadpan comic sensibility within a classic Hollywood filmmaking style, the Finnish filmmaker hits pay dirt with this tale of a world-weary French shoe shiner (Andr Wilms) helping an illegal African refugee (Blondin Miguel) escape the authorities. Amid all the riffs on Casablanca and homages to poetic-realism references—one character is named "Arletty"—there's also a touching fable about the necessity of banding together in a fractured, bureaucratic world. You still get the usual po-faced jokes; this time out, Kaurismki includes a heartfelt hat tip to the power of community and cinema.—DF

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New York Film Festival 2011

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