Le Havre

Film, Drama
1 Love It
Save it
Le Havre
Le Havre
Andre Wilms and Jean-Pierre Darroussin in Le Havre
Andre Wilms and Jean-Pierre Darroussin in Le Havre

The long collaboration between Finnish writer-director Aki Kaurismäki (‘Drifting Clouds’, ‘The Man Without a Past’) and his cinematographer Timo Salminen means you can spot a shot from his films a mile off: unsmiling characters will be looking into the distance, shadows will be obvious, colours will be varied but muted and locations will be downbeat. It’s true even of ‘Le Havre’, which is set in the French port of the title rather than Kaurismäki’s usual haunt of Helsinki. This is his second French-language film after 1992's 'La Vie de Bohème' and tells of the efforts of a shabby, big-hearted shoeshiner, Marcel (André Wilms), to shelter Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), an illegal immigrant, from the long arm of the law.

This story emerges as much from the world of cinema as the real: it’s full of suspect men in ill-fitting coats and hats, like extras in ’40s noirs. A detective, Monet (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), sports a black raincoat and gloves and skulks round corners, French acting legend Jean-Pierre Léaud has a bit part as a grass and there’s a musical interlude featuring French rocker Little Bob. You could be forgiven for thinking that the film’s concern for outsiders is buried beneath an arch style and countless insider film nods, but ‘Le Havre’ still emerges as a simple, hopeful and nostalgic portrait of an essentially good community. What really saves ‘Le Havre’ from being too precious, apart from a wicked thread of black humour, is a sense of solidarity between not just the story’s characters, but between them, the filmmaker and us.

By: Dave Calhoun


Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday April 6 2012
Duration: 93 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Screenwriter: Aki Kaurismäki
Cast: Jean-Pierre Léaud
Jean-Pierre Darroussin
Kati Outinen

Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

Had high hopes, but found after 20 mins I just didn't care enough about either the boy, the wife, or even the dog to keep going with it....

Pretentious boring intellectual style. Everything sounds fake, characters are stiff, the dialogue so overly written that only Daroussin manages to make it sound real. Impossible coincidences. I nearly left half way through. Then the film was saved by Little Bob for a moment and I kept hoping for something. The last hospital sequence and happy ending is a total cheat. This film is an insult to intelligence. But if you want to feel smart, you tell yourself this is all irony, 2nd degree and pure cinema. Kaurismaki is badly aging like Kiarostami, Resnais etc.

I really enjoyed this querky and touching film. I'll have to watch it again to get all the painting references. It's set in no particular time and all the characters are somehow out of place, but cohesive at the same time. Lovely

This is my fourth film l have see by the Finnish/Japanese director,and it is the least enjoyable and creatively successful...The Finnish language lends itself readily to laconic minimalism.However French does not sit so well with the director's style..It has too many words and not enough nuance...The film has it's moments but overall l felt indifferent whilst watching

A lovely, understated gem and an antidote to the horribly contrived white middle class guilt of Phillipe Loiret's 'Welcome'

A lovely, understated gem and an antidote to the horribly contrived white middle class guilt of Phillipe Loiret's 'Welcome'