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Le Havre DVD Review

Director: Aki Kaurismaki

Starring: Andre Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Blondin Miguel

Running Time: 93 minutes

Certificate: PG

Extras: Interview with actors André Wilms and Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Little Bob Music Video, Trailer

The Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film has thrown up some true marvels: AMORES PERROS (2000), AMELIE (2001) and HERO (2002) each received a wider audience thanks to their nomination. In 2012, 63 countries submitted films, with five movies selected for nomination. LE HAVRE, Finland’s French-language submission, missed nomination however this should not detract from its undoubted quality.

Director/writer Aki Kaurismaki’s film follows Marcel Marx (Wilms), a shoe-shiner with a devoted wife, who is about to have his world turned upside down: wife Arletty (Outinen) is taken seriously ill, work is tough, and he’s about to take in a refugee Idrissa (Miguel), who arrives in, then escapes, a cargo container carrying 15-20 others all looking for a home. Kaurismaki encapsulates the world’s view on immigration beautifully: police wield rifles and a newspaper headline tells us a fugitive boy ‘may have links to Al-Quaeda’, setting the film up and leaving no doubt about Kaurismaki’s stance.

Directing with the confidence expected of a 30-year veteran, Kaurismaki is at ease with the camera, which often remains still, never needing to enhance what is being shown, instead giving the actors centre stage. Andre Wilms performance is brilliantly emotionless; he exudes calm when his world is falling apart. Blondin Miguel is a revelation in his first role, and the supporting cast are excellent.

Immigration films, and outsider stories, can be overly assertive with their viewpoints. DOGVILLE (2003) by Lars Von Trier, though excellent, is an example of this. LE HAVRE is the opposite, it is a human story that does not veer its focus from humanity, the antagonist has no face and is only heard once. This is brave filmmaking wrapped in a very fluffy and protective casing.

LE HAVRE isn’t perfect: the story development may be a little soft for some. Characters dip in and out a little too frequently, and the ending will have some in tears and others rolling their eyes. It doesn’t reach the heights of AMORES PERROS or AMELIE, but is still an excellent watch and, if you allow, it will make you feel very warm inside.

Extras: The interviews are interesting and informing. Other extras are non-entities.

LE HAVRE is available on Blu-ray and DVD August 6th.



Sam is a bloody lovely lad born and raised in Bristol (he’s still there and can’t escape). Favourite films include THE LOST BOYS, DRIVE, FIGHT CLUB and COMMANDO, well pretty much any 1980s Arnie film you can throw his way…even RED SONJA. Sam once cancelled a Total Film subscription after they slagged off Teen Wolf. He resubscribed 2 days later.

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