JDIFF 2012: Le Havre

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

First Look:

Le Havre

Sunday, 19th February, 8.30pm, Light House

Aki Kaurismäki Le Havre is a pure gem; a fine tale of immigrants, love and simplicity. The Finnish director brings a mood of bone-dry humour to proceedings with jokes you’re not sure weather to laugh or cry at. Le Havre is set in the most popolous province in the Haute-Normandie region in the North of France and is the story of Marcel Marx (Andrè Wilms), once writer and bohémien, in his sixties, a refugee from Paris to Le Havre, where he leads a poor but happy life -divided between his work as a proud shoeshiner, drinks at the bar, and the love of his wife, Arletty (Kati Outinen). The existence of Marcel changes after two unexpected events: his wife’s illness illness and an encounter with a boy from Gabon, Idrissa (Miguel Blondin), who has just arrived at the port of Le Havre along with other illegal immigrants. Suddenly for Marcel it is time to grow up quickly, to start to polish his own shoes and to dress like an adult in order to embrace a ‘war’ against injustice. The injustice of the French police of taking Idrissa away from his dream to join his mother in London.

In addressing the issue of immigration, one of the most important issues in politics and also in cinema today, the Finnish director is not bothered even for a second with what might be seen as politically correct or incorrect in his film. In fact often politically incorrect, his film is a clear statement that whatever state, government, law or order that seeks to destroy the dream of a son to rejoin his mother, becomes a lawless and inhuman state.
Aside from the usual cast of actors usually involved in Kaurismäki’s films, the film marks the first time he has worked with the magnificent Jean-Pierre Daroussin, who plays the role of the detective Monet. Also outstanding is the appearance of Jean-Pierre Léaud as an unfriendly and vicious neighbour.

Nicola Marzano

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