August 25, 2011


This seems to be yet another film I find myself in the minority of opinion on. I really didn't understand the appeal of this film, nor why it was in the Festival. But then, I have never seen another film by director Aki Kaurismaki and everyone else I talked to who had, loved Le Havre. Perhaps I missed some sort of Kaurismaki in-joke but my overall reaction to the film could be summed up in one word: blah.

An old shoe-shiner, Marcel, attempts to ply his trade on the streets, where he meets with hostility from store owners. Typically shoe-store owners in fact. Meanwhile, down at the shipyards, a shipping container is found to house a number of refugees lost on their way to asylum in London. One young refugee boy, Idrissa, makes a break for it and is eventually discovered and taken in by the shoe-shiner. The cops (personified by the black hatted and trench-coated Monet) are after Idrissa, and fairly quickly, Marcel too. Marcel's wife has also been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is lain up in hospital as Marcel troops about, trying to locate Idrissa's people.

Absolutely none of this found a connection with me, and that's not due to the story or themes behind it. Frankly, I'm all for tackling serious issues within the genre of comedy, in addition to being impressed by many previous films that have gone after this same subject matter. I found the photography flat and uninteresting and still struggle to see the appeal of the film, let alone it being the sell-out centrepiece of the Film Festival. There is a dry, deadpan sense of humour throughout the film that just didn't scan with me. In fact, I'm finding it incredibly difficult to talk about Le Havre - the film is not monumentally awful by any stretch and obviously has some craft behind it. I just found the whole experience of it to be so middle-of-the-road and disconnectingly boring it was like watching road markings dry.

And that's all I have to say about that.

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