Le Havre (Criterion) (Bilingual) [Blu-ray] (Version française)
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In this warmhearted comic yarn from Aki KaurismÃ¤ki (The Match Factory Girl), fate throws the young African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (La vie de bohÃ¨me’s AndrÃ© Wilms), a kindly bohemian who shines shoes for a living, in the French harbor city Le Havre. With inborn optimism and the support of most of his tight-knit community, Marcel stands up to the officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic French cinema of the past, especially the poetic realist works of Jean Duvivier and Marcel CarnÃ©, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight and one of the Finnish director’s finest films.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES • New high-definition digital transfer, approved by director Aki KaurismÃ¤ki, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition • New interview with actor AndrÃ© Wilms • Cannes Film Festival press conference from 2011, featuring cast and crew • French television interview with KaurismÃ¤ki, Wilms, and actors Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Kati Outinen • Concert footage of Little Bob, the rock group featured in the film • Trailer • New English subtitle translation • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Sicinski
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Top Customer Reviews
One day a runaway illegal immigrant or ‘irregular’ as we now say comes to his attention. Whilst the media portray this boy, Idrissa, as a possible terrorist, Marcel sees a frightened lonely child who needs help. Despite being chased by the police, Marcel takes all the risks he can to help him. The boy’s mother is in London and that is where he wants to get, but with no money and no clue of how to do so.
What happens next is both life affirming and heart warming, some may say too much so. However I was swept along by this beautifully paced and told story. The acting is all spot on, and I particularly like the lack of pretty actors, this is a proper slice of life and has a very cosmopolitan attitude to modern day France and its attitude to immigration. We even get a sort of charity gig at one point which is where ‘Little Bob’ comes in and he makes ‘the Stones’ look a bit spritely – God bless him.
Directed and written by Aki Kaurismaki this is one of those films that will leave you with a nice war feeling inside and a desire to see more of his films, which are not prolific enough. So if a bit of Gallic spirit and humour all wrapped up in a feel good factor is your thing then you really can not go wrong with this brilliant piece of cinema.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"Le Havre" (93 min.) centers around the ordinary lives of people like Marcel Marx (which character incidentally also appears in La Vie de Boheme and where he also was played by André Wilms). Marx tries to get by as a shoe-shiner, but life is hard. The house he and his wife Arletty have is modest at best. Then one day a group of illegal immigrants from Gabon are found in a container waiting to be shipped to London. A teenage boy manages to escape the police and eventually the boy and Marcel Marx link up. I don't want to spoil the plot any further than this, you'll just have to see how it all plays out for yourself.
This is not an "action" movie. Instead, it observes the ordinary lives of ordinary people, and in addition it is a love note of sorts to the city of Le Havre, which, like the characters in this movie, has seen better days but remains resilient. This movie was very well received at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and it is easy to see why. The acting is superb throughout, none better than by lead actor André Wilms. I enjoyed this movie from start to finish, but obviously this is not for anyone in a hurry or looking for the next Harry Potter franchise. Highly recommended!
One day Marcel meets Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), a young refugee boy from Gabon running away from the police. While Marcel decides to raise money so that the boy can meet his mother in London, Arletty, ill and now in the hospital, conceals a fact that she knows would shock her husband.
The theme of "Le Havre" overlaps that of a 2009 French film "Welcome," but Kaurismäki's approach is less political, focusing the everyday life of ordinary people, described with Kaurismäki's deadpan humor/sentimentality. Kaurismäki's longtime photographer Timo Salminen's careful use of muted colors is another plus, adding a realistic touch to the modern-day fable.
André Wilms (who 20 years ago played "Marcel," a down-and-out artist in Paris in Kaurismäki's "La Vie de Bohème") turns in quiet and understated performance as the aged shoe shiner determined to do something for the boy. Kati Outinen, the director's muse since the 1980s, is also outstanding as the protagonist's ailing wife, and so is Jean-Pierre Darroussin as Monet, softer version of Inspector Javert trying to catch the boy.
I like the film for its positive, life-affirming message, though I for one prefer such films as "The Man without a Past" and "Ariel," in which darker events happen and characters have to struggle more. Perhaps with an exception of cameo Jean-Pierre Léaud, there is no "villain" in "Le Havre," which marks a new phase in the respected director's long career.
A cargo ship unloads a container ultimately headed for London. Authorities discover it contains 20 or so people from North Africa. One teen age boy (Blondin Miguel) manages to get away and finds his way to Marcel while he is having his lunch. Marcel shelters and feeds the boy even though he worries about the authorities ultimately catching him and deporting him back to Africa. He also has to contend with his wife (Kati Outinen) who is in the hospital for what appears to be stomach cancer. Her prognosis is grim but she hides the probable outcome from Marcel.
Using his sympathetic neighbors and an unlikely police detective (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) for support, Marcel finds out that young Idrissa was enroute to London to reunite with his mother. He manages to get a neighbor and former headliner rock musician Little Bob to hold a fund raiser in order to pay to have the boy smuggled into England. Kaurismaki, who also wrote the script, never plays this too serious. But it's not a comedy either. You really have to think of it more as a fantasy. And a good one it is. The film ends with an unexpected surprise. Check it out.