Le Havre - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Le Havre Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 27, 2011
I liked the premise of this film, and it definitely had its moments, but overall, unfortunately, I found it kind of boring. Had the characters had a little more charm I think it could have been great, but I just didn't get behind them (your mileage may vary). Will check out other Kaurismaki films, though.
Super Reviewer
½ March 31, 2012
'Le Havre'. A whimsical, feel good tale with a very quirky look, direction and set of characters.
Super Reviewer
½ January 17, 2012
Even if not special or memorable, this is an enjoyable film that invests well in a theatrical tone to tell a simple story. A comedic drama that makes curious use of a fable-like illumination and affected performances to turn a potentially dense drama into a light, funny experience.
Super Reviewer
½ April 11, 2012
Affable shoe-shine man Wilms takes up the cause of illegal immigrant Miguel who is seeking passage from the title port to join his mother in London.

From a purely stylistic viewpoint, this movie is beautiful with an eye-popping colour palette not seen in French cinema since the seventies. Of course it's writer-director is an outsider with a romantic view of France, and arguably immigration, purely gleaned from the country's pop culture. Frankly if I were French I'd find the stereotypical tableau on display here quite offensive. Wilms exists on a diet of fresh baguettes and wine while the local cafe plays whimsical chansons from fifty years ago. I almost expected a mime to turn up with garlic strung around his neck.
Scratch beneath the surface and there's little holding this together. Wilms is charming in a fairytale grandfather sort of way but most of the other cast members are wooden, in particular Finnish actress Outinen. Maybe she struggles with the French language but the desk I'm writing this on has more personality.
The problem with European cinema is that it's an old boys network. If you're an established film-maker like Kaurismaki you don't have to worry about funding so you can churn out half-developed scripts like this. The ending of this is so bad that a primary school English teacher would throw it back in the face of the pupil who submitted it. (It wasn't all a dream but it wasn't far off.)
If you have a romanticised naive vision of Europe you might enjoy this. If like me you actually live here this will just be lamentable for the wrong reasons. There are beautiful images in this film, they just don't work so well strung together over ninety minutes.
For a French language movie about the kindness of strangers go watch "The Kid With A Bike", this one's not worth the schlepp.
Super Reviewer
½ November 27, 2011
Marcel Marx(Andre Wilms) is a shoeshine who makes a sparse living in Le Havre and has more than his share of his debts. His wife Arletty(Kati Outinen) dutifully stands by him while unbeknowst to him, she is very ill. Meanwhile, sounds are heard from a shipping container near the harbor and the police, fearing the worst, are called in. Luckily, all of the would be immigrants seem not the worse for wear. So, Idrissa(Blondin Miguel), a young boy, with a little encouragement from his grandfather makes a break for it. To his credit, Inspector Monet(Jean-Pierre Darroussin) stops a police officer from getting off a shot, allowing him to get away.

Outside of the changed setting, "Le Havre" might appear to seem like a normal Aki Kaurismaki movie on the surface, as it contains some of his usual touches, along with Kati Outinen in the cast. On the other hand, it is also one of his most topical movies while also one of his most optimistic, even if it is a little predictable at the end. Regardless, the movie almost feels entirely timeless, as about the only sign of present day technology is the most malicious act being carried out by a cell phone. And I think what Kaurismaki is getting at is that in the past people did not act out of fear and were actually much kinder towards each other. So, my question is do Marcel's neighbors act differently towards him when Idrissa comes into his life or is it because his wife falls ill? Or are the events connected even if they do not at first appear to be so?
Super Reviewer
November 3, 2011
Sentimental in all the right ways, Le Havre brings out the humanity in the midst of the inhumanity of refugee claimants who end up trapped on the coast of France seeking freedom in the U.K. or other points.
Super Reviewer
½ July 22, 2013
I heard of Aki from the title Le Havre, which starts off as a very charming but honest piece. The film shows class seperation very well. It's not just the rich, bourgeois, and poor in this film. The movie goes more in depth showing the working class, the beggars, the refugees/migrant workers, ect. And when you look at the protagonist Marcel Marx, getting his shoe stand kicked over at the beggining, he seems like a pitiful low class man. But once you seem him in the refugee camp he presents himself as a lawyer. This film reminds me of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul when it shows how quickly people can change their attitude to you, and on how Marcel starts becoming a taker. The acting in this film wasn't great, the refugee boy and the wife were noticeably stiff, and characterless in their given roles. The film also loses all it's realism in the concluding scenes, this is unfortunate, since it doesn't fit in with the rest, and the rest was far more down my alley.
Super Reviewer
½ March 3, 2013
A beautiful modern day fairy-tale with a humanistic sensibility, this wonderful film put me in mind of The Kid With A Bike. Prepare to have your heart melted.
Super Reviewer
June 5, 2012
This is the first Kaurismaki film I have seen and from this I can't wait to watch his highly critically acclaimed catalogue. I was absolutely charmed by this film. The deadpan humour, emotional detachment and colourful aesthetic is something I am very surprised I enjoyed. This is because I am never swept away by Wes Anderson's work because I find it lacks any depth because of its deadpan humour, emotional detachment and aesthetic takeover, but with Kaurismaki, he shows what a truly intelligent director can do with those attributes. Behind all the dry, colourful aesthetic there is a heavy weighted themes of working class life and even a tightly strung note of satire but it is never compromised by the deadpan wit, but subtly complimented. I walked out of the theatre with not just a warm glow but gears grinding in my mind.
Super Reviewer
March 24, 2012
Sweet, lovely drama centering on good things happening to good people. A real gem.
October 24, 2015
An art-house feel-good movie. Very optimistic in its nature, with no villains in sight (besides a vague sense of government harassment). Andre Wilms helps to create a great character in Marcel Marx, he would be a very great subject to create a low-key series around, just following him around. Well directed and filmed, with an interesting look and feel.
½ December 10, 2013
succeeds at being simple and genuinely, beautifully heartwarming without being cloying or melodramatic. it's just like...i dunno, perpetually charming without trying hard to be. definitely a film that gets better after dwelling on it for a while.
July 31, 2013
Le Havre, an odd film that has been gathering a lot of attention (too much, in my opinion), made its way through the Cannes circuit winning the Fipresci Prize yet losing in all 7 standard feature-film competition categories. Considered Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki's most mainstream film, Le Havre fails to be a film greater than the location it takes its name from.
Following an old shoe-shiner, Marcel Marx (André Wilms), lives an almost vagabond lifestyle traveling through Normandy trying to make enough money to sustain he and his wife, Arletty (Kati Outinen). When he returns home one night to find his wife ill in the corner of their kitchen he rushes her to the hospital but knows that he must continue shoe-shining.
Meanwhile, a cargo box is opened by French police in a port in Normandy revealing a dozen illegal African immigrants on route to London and a young boy runs out of the cargo. Now pinned as an African terrorist by the French government (the funniest moment of the film), the boy remains in hiding until he meets the depressed yet kind Marcel Marx. Marcel decides to help the boy get to London in a series of Good Samaritan like deeds.
Though the film has a nice message (kindness, love etc..), the film is an absolute waste with a resolution far too predictable.
Traditionally, American films are not location specific (unless it's a Woody Allen film), but European filmmakers are notorious for making films dedicated to cities. Many of these films are some of the greatest ever made, but this is not one of them. The film is almost too focused upon music (whether playing on a radio, record player, or a live performance by a real band popular in Le Havre). Rather than being artistic or profound, as in American director Wes Anderson's films, in Le Havre the music drags and causes uncomfortable moments of stillness that seem to ignore the true responses to music in the real world.
Had the film continued down the path that the first five minutes lead the audience to believe the film would be about, the film would be close to perfect. Sadly, Kaurismäki chose sentimentality over original writing... It's his loss.
½ September 2, 2013
A tender, light humored drama that mixes its sorrowful and heartening elements very effectively and passionately, soaring with an encouraging spirit.
June 30, 2013
LE HAVRE is a magical and wonderful movie. I've never been a big fan of director, Aki Kaurismaki. I find his style too effected and his gloomy outlook false. But he totally scores here. His deadpan style is so far better suited to a lovely magical film like LE HAVRE. This movie will make you happy to be alive with no suds, no sentiment, there's sadness but such great lyricism. This film will make you love life, France, and just about everything! Bravo!!
½ May 28, 2013
Definitely deadpan. Love the cinematography and Marcel Marx. A pleasure to watch, but not captivating.
½ September 29, 2012
One of the most kind-hearted movies ever made, Le Havre's slow--and sometimes awkward--pace is rewarded with a sincere execution. A large recommendation for those who want to be put in a good mood =)
½ December 5, 2012
Has clever moments and a nice conclusion but is brought down by some very dry scenes and nothing standing out. Worth a rental but nothing above that.
½ October 9, 2012
You're somehow sucked in. The story is simple, the execution is exact but far from extraordinary. It's a film that doesn't reach, and I appreciated it. Seems the critics the same. Has the simple feeling of storytelling from another era; 60's spilling into 70's, and I enjoyed that touch.
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