Kaurismaki is an artist who takes politics seriously. His latest film revolves around a political question: that of illegal immigration. Luckily, the artist has triumphed over the agitator. "Le Havre" is another of Kaurismaki's deadpan comedies that can be enjoyed no matter your ideology -- or your language.
"Le Havre" is set in the French harbor city of the title -- its writer-director is Finnish, but its language is French. Marcel Marx (Andre Wilms) shines the shoes of the city, making an honest living to bring home to his wife, Arletty (Kati Outinen), and dog, Laika (which is the director's own). His somewhat ordered bohemian life is thrown off kilter by the arrival -- to Le Havre and France -- of a young boy.
|3 out of 4 stars|
|Stars: Andre Wilms, Blondin Miguel, Jean-Pierre Darroussin|
|Director: Aki Kaurismaki|
|Rated: Not rated|
|Running time: 93 minutes|
Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) is a refugee from Africa trying to get to his mother in London. He's come off a ship full of illegal immigrants, and the authorities are after him. Marcel instinctually sees the injustice. But he can't help the boy on his own. It might take a village to raise a child; but it certainly takes a community to help shelter an illegal one.
"Le Havre" won the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes, and it's easy to see why: This offbeat film is a crowd-pleaser. Its ultimate subject matter is dark, but its central character is too optimistic to allow such a mood to take hold -- in his little world, and in this little film. Its political theme has just as much resonance here in the United States as it must in the European Union. More important, this style of comedy relies more on looks than talk. So "Le Havre" itself can be enjoyed by an American audience almost as much as by a French-speaking one. It's a film that speaks to the universal -- sometimes without saying a word.