Saturday, January 21, 2012

Le Havre

Le Havre is a Finnish film directed by Aki Kaurismaki, who my husband loves but I'd never heard of....which, come to think of it, is pretty common in our household. 

If you should ever find yourself at the Gateway Theater in Columbus, Ohio, and you find out the movie you're seeing is in Theater #8, beware.  This theater sucked!  It was tiny, without raised seating.  The seats were basically the kind of "theater seating" you'd buy at a furniture store, except they didn't recline.  And since you're sitting on floor level, you have to look up in order to see the screen, which is hard to do when you can't recline much.  Not very comfortable, indeed!

Le Havre centers around Marcel Marx, an aging gentleman who scrapes by working as a shoe shiner in the French city of Le Havre.  He spends his days shining shoes with his coworker Chang, grabbing baguettes and vegetables from the local shops "on credit" on his way home, and then perhaps capping off the day with an aperitif or two at the local bistro, while his wife Arletty prepares dinner.

Arletty falls ill and is hospitalized at the same time that, by happenstance, a young African refugee named Idrissa enters into Marcel's life.  Marcel takes the boy in and vows to help him escape to London to find his mother.  Marcel's small community rallies around him - the shop owners who merely tolerated Marcel previously step up by donating food, hiding the boy, and organizing a "trendy charity concert" to raise the funds it will take for Idrissa to escape.  Meanwhile, Marcel and those around him are relentlessly pursued by a local detective, who is searching for Idrissa, presumably to deport him.

I don't want to say too much, lest I give away any spoilers, but ultimately, Le Havre ends up on an uplifting note, although I had the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop the whole time I was watching it.  To me, it had kind of a grim tone, but it could have also just seemed that way because I didn't really know what to expect.  According to my husband, Le Havre wasn't as funny as the other Kaurismaki films he's seen, although I thought it did have a few funny moments. 

Immediately upon exiting the theater, I think I would have given Le Havre a 7.5 or 8 out of 10.  Some movies get better in my memory as time goes on (Drive is a recent example that comes to mind), but for whatever reason, Le Havre is not one of these movies.  I mostly enjoyed watching it at the time, but now I'd go with a 6.5.  I guess it just didn't have any impact that stuck with me. 

No comments:

Post a Comment