This is one of those feel good films that has something for nearly everyone. It is bout Marcel Marx Andre Wilms (‘Europa, Europa’ –also excellent), who scratches a living doing shoe shines in the port of Le Havre. He has a coterie of friends, mostly poor, and a doting wife Arletty, who is covering up her illness from him.
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.