Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki turns his attention to the north-west of France for Le Havre in his latest feature.
Fans of the Helsinki-born director will be familiar with his trademark deadpan humour which he expertly draws from his straight-faced characters and dour situations.
Aki Kaurismäki continues this stylistic approach in Le Havre although there is a greater deal of warmth and sweetness running through this compared with previous films which lends it the feel of a modern fairy tale.
Set in the French port of the title this comedy-drama concerns Marcel (André Wilms), an elderly bohemian writer-turned shoeshine man, who befriends a young boy named Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) at the docks one day.
It turns out that Idrissa is an African refugee who has illegally entered France along with a number of others and is now desperately trying to get across to England where his relatives live before the authorities catch up with him.
Feeling for the boy’s plight Marcel agrees to shelter him until he can help him reach his destination.
Hot on Idrissa’s trail, however, is Inspector Monet (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) with whom Marcel quickly finds himself drawn into a game of cat-and-mouse.
Le Havre may have a contemporary setting, but it has a timeless quality to it such are the endearingly old-fashioned ways by which the characters live, settled in their familiar daily routines and cheerful despite their humble existence.
When Marcel enlists their help in getting young Idrissa over to England his neighbours are only too happy to do what they can even attempting to stage a benefit concert to raise money for the operation.
Kaurismäki’s film may deal with a serious subject, that of illegal immigrants, but the fine balance he strikes between comedy and poignancy ensures it’s handled deftly and with plenty of heart.
This portrait of an essentially good community will not only make you feel nostalgic for more simple times but also remind you of the power of human decency and team spirit.
Le Havre has been described by the Guardian (UK) as a ‘satisfying and distinctly lovable film’.
It won the Arri-Zeiss-Award at the 2011 Munich Film Festival and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes 2011.
The Film Club will screen Le Havre at the Source Arts Centre on Wednesday, December 12th at 8pm.
Tickets: E9 (E7 concession & E5 for Film Club members). For further information please call the box office on 0504 90204 or visit thesourceartscentre.ie.
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