Le Havre Reviews
Wonderful story illustrating compassion and empathy. I absolutely loved it.
Nice, not a masterpiece, but, if you have one hour and half spare, this is a nice way to spend that time.
Same old Aki Kaurismäki's awkwardness.
Le Havre premiered on 17 May 2011 in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival. It was the fourth time a film by Kaurismäki competed at the festival, after Drifting Clouds, The Man Without a Past and Lights in the Dusk. The Finnish premiere is set to 9 September 2011 through Future Film Distribution. Pyramide Distribution will release it in France on 21 December. Janus Films acquired the American distribution rights.
The budget was 3.8 million euro and included 750,000 euro in support from the Finnish Film Foundation. Kaurismäki's company Sputnik was the main producer, with Finnish broadcaster YLE, France's Pyramide Productions and Germany's Pandora Film as co-producers. The local rock singer Little Bob was cast in the film; Kaurismäki said that "Le Havre is the Memphis, Tennessee of France and Little Bob a.k.a. Roberto Piazza is the Elvis of this Kingdom as long as Johnny Hallyday stays in Paris and even then it would be a nice fight." Filming started 23 March and ended 12 May 2010
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The film received the FIPRESCI Prize for best film at the Cannes Film Festival. It also received a Special Mention from the Ecumenical Jury. The dog Laika received a special Jury Prize from the Palm Dog jury. The film went on to win the top prize for best international film at the 2011 Munich International Film Festival. It was selected as a nominee for the European Parliament's Lux Prize. The film was selected as the Finnish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards, but it did not make the final shortlist. Le Havre also won the Gold Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "fresh" score of 99% based on reviews from 71 critics.
Leslie Felperin wrote in Variety: "It's all rather jolly and slight, and certainly doesn't break any new ground for the Finnish auteur, even though it foregrounds more influences than usual from French filmmakers like Marcel Carne (obvious, given the protagonists' names), Jean-Pierre Melville, Robert Bresson and others. But on its own terms, Le Havre is a continual pleasure, seamlessly blending morose and merry notes with a deftness that's up there with Kaurismaki's best comic work." Felperin complimented the craft of Kaurismäki's regular cinematographer Timo Salminen and editor Timo Linnasalo, and wrote: "It's like listening to a band that's been cheerfully churning it out for years, whose members all know each other's timings inside out, not unlike onscreen performers Little Bob and his grizzled, perfectly in-sync crew."
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The story follows a bohemian shoeshiner who comes across a troubled African immigrant who is trying to find his mother in London. The problem - the child immigrated illegally and ended up in a French village, rather than the British supercity. With the police hot on their tail, and the man's wife suffering in a hospital, the town pulls together to get this child home.
And you know what, that's very uplifting and all, but there's no real surprises (aside from one notable one right at the end, which still doesn't feel like too much of a payoff). It just feels like this movie sacrificed potential to be a very interesting film, in exchange for a Wes Anderson-esque whimsy, and it just seemed to be missing something.
It's a shame, because it's been so highly rated on this site, and there is certainly a huge reputation for director Aki Kaurismaki, but I just couldn't get into the film. Some piece was missing. I don't know if it was just me, but this was nothing more than a nice little bit of forgettable fluff.