Watched Aug 16, 2012
Adam Cook’s review:
Despite nearly always enjoying the films of Aki Kaurismäki I find it hard ever to be enthusiastic about his work. In the end they are often deadpan, quirky and charming diversions that rarely leave much of an impression after the credits have rolled. Sadly, Le Havre continues this trend although it is arguably one of the director’s best films to date.
Le Havre is a fable about a small community in the titular Normandy port who harbour an illegal immigrant boy. It is a very sweet little film about community and an incorruptible innocence. Kaurismäki has often shown an interest in the underdog and those on the fringes of society and here is no difference. There is a great warmth and sense of love directed to this menagerie of characters. Although the film is driven with a dry wit there is no sense of cynicism directed to those that populate this world. It is predictably beautiful to look at too with strong compositions, saturated colours and a great use of shadows.
It is a film that is nearly impossible not to like but it is so slight that it is also hard to ever get truly excited about either. It may focus on a serious issue in Europe (that of illegal immigration and our responsibility towards them) but it keeps such issues at a safe and comfortable distance. The ensemble cast are all terrific with very cinematic faces (every line on their ageing faces seems to tell a story) whilst the film also shows a clear love for French cinema. Sweet, unquestionably endearing but insubstantial.