Le Havre (2011)
Critic Consensus: Aki Kaurismäki's deadpan wit hits a graceful note with Le Havre, a comedy/drama that's sweet, sad, and uplifting in equal measure.
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Critic Reviews for Le Havre
We are so held by the film's impact that its ending, surprise or not, is like a bonus.
Endearingly quirky, just this side of precious, but so warm and deftly executed that you go along with it.
"Le Havre" is a passing fancy of a film, but it passes quite nicely indeed.
'Tis the season, so the saying goes. And when it comes to Aki Kaurismäki, it holds true. The Finnish writer-director arrives bearing a gift wrapped in a contemporary immigration fable.
If the bummers and ambiguity of some of this season's movies are getting you down - or, hey, just the bummers and ambiguities of life - make your way to Le Havre. You won't be sorry.
Audience Reviews for Le Havre
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.
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.
'Le Havre'. A whimsical, feel good tale with a very quirky look, direction and set of characters.
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