Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
Our Centrepiece celebrates the comeback of a long-time Festival favourite. Aki Kaurismäki’s tender French comedy was a huge hit in competition at Cannes and winner of the International Critics Prize. — BG
“Some wonderful, big-hearted comedy was provided by the Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki... Le Havre had all the master’s trademarked deadpan dialogue and delicious nuggets of bone-dry humour, and his compassion for the marginalised and dispossessed, but with something richer and sweeter than I remember from his previous pictures… Le Havre is shot in the French port town, with French actors and dialogue, though Kaurismäki’s repertory stalwart player Kati Outinen has a role. She plays the wife of Marcel (André Wilms), a dignified, stoic man who works as a shoeshiner on the streets. Marcel witnesses an illegal immigrant boy from Gabon, Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), escape from the police and sets out to help him. But a tough cop, Inspector Monet (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), is on his trail, not to mention a mean-spirited local given to making anonymous denunciations.
Kaurismäki’s movie moves lightly but elegantly and quickly, like a little jockey on a powerful horse... Somehow, for all its comedy and absurdity, Le Havre addresses its theme with more persuasive confidence than many a grim social-realist picture… Kaurismäki is a master of making deadpan a subtle, expressive performance mode... What a treat this film is.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“Finally Cannes delivers some real laughs! …Le Havre blithely portrays life as we might wish it to be, and that is the funniest irony of all.” — Barbara Scharres, Chicago Sun-Times