A film by Aki Kaurismäki
2011 / Finland-France / Runtime 93 minutes
5.45 pm / 29th Nov / Perks Mini Theater
Le Havre is a a perfect, deadpan, impishly optimistic fairy tale from the great Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki. Le Havre offers the director’s usual humour, pitch-perfect acting and compassionate message. It is set in the French port city where many of the cargoes are human: illegal immigrants arriving from Africa. The film's hero, Marcel Marx with no plan in mind becomes in charge of protecting a migrant African boy from arrest.
The movie's other characters are all proletarians from a working-class neighborhood. We meet Marcel's wife, Arletty (Kati Outinen), who joins her husband in his scheme. Marcel and Arletty are long and happily in love. They cherish each other. Childless, they care for the boy and enlist others in the neighborhood to hide him from Inspector Monet.
Filmed in a high, nostalgic style that gives its setting the gleam and romance of another era, "Le Havre" is a movie composed entirely of fantastic faces. Another classic Kaurismäki characteristic very much in evidence is his vivid and idiosyncratic use of color. Working with his regular cinematographer Timo Salminen and French set designer Wouter Zoon, the director does wonderful things with a pastel palette and loves to put unexpected visual accents where you least expect them.
This movie is as lovable as a silent comedy, which it could have been. It takes place in a world that seems cruel and heartless, but look at the lengths Marcel goes to find Idrissa's father in a refugee camp and raise money to send the boy to join his mother in England. Finnish film maker Kaurismaki has set his story of timely issues and timeless values in the French port city of the title. (Source:Internet)
Aki Kaurismäki was born in Finland in 1957. After graduating in media studies from the University of Tampere, He started his career as a co-screenwriter and actor in films made by his older brother, Mika Kaurismäki. His debut as an independent director was Crime and Punishment (1983), an adaptation of Dostoyevsky's novel set in modern Helsinki. He gained worldwide attention with Leningrad Cowboys Go To America. Kaurismäki has been influenced by the French directors Jean-Pierre Melville and Robert Bresson. He has tried and managed to stick totally to the inseparable realities of the real world. His minimalist style is all his own (and that of the great cinematographer of all his films, Timo Salminen); he never entered the Finnish Film School (as he was suspected to be "too cynical").
Much of Kaurismäki's work is centred on Helsinki, such as the film Calamari Union, the Proletariat trilogy (Shadows in Paradise, Ariel and The Match Factory Girl) and the Finland trilogy (Drifting Clouds, The Man Without a Past and Lights in the Dusk). His vision of Helsinki is critical and singularly unromantic. Indeed, his characters often speak about how they wish to get away from Helsinki. Some end up in Mexico (Ariel), others in Estonia (Shadows in Paradise, Calamari Union, and Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatjana). The setting of most of his films is the 1980s, or at least contains elements from that decade. Kaurismäki is, in fact, almost single-handedly responsible for rejuvenating the failing Finnish film industry in the 1980s with a series of highly original comedies made with his brother Mika. Over the past twenty years, Kaurismäki has become one of the pre-eminent auteurs of international art cinema, fusing minimalism and melodrama to poignantly depict the hardships of Finland’s blue-collar class.