Review: Le Havre (PG) ? ? ? ½

DEVOTED to his invalid wife Arletty (Kati Outinen), Marcel (a lovely performance from Andre Wilms) shines shoes for a living.

He finds an African boy Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) under a wharf in the harbour and takes him in.

Detective Monet (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) is enquiring among the waterfront folk for information about Idrissa’s whereabouts.  Life is pulling Marcel in several directions.

There’s enough human interaction in this summation to give promise of a charmingly compassionate film. Finnish film-maker Aki Kaurismaki’s screenplay illuminates the unforced humour in the daily lives of the local shopkeepers and residents.

Gendarmes, determined to find Idrissa before he can resume his journey to London, evoke the Keystone Cops mingled with modern police practices such as US movies and TV shows portray. And Monet may threaten Idriess’s safety but we are never quite sure.

In making its statement about the plight of refugees fleeing third-world demagogueries, brutalisations and economic depressions, “Le Havre” avoids hysteria or hubris. Its dramatic structure is direct and simple. Its warmth is charming. Hard to fault those parameters.

At Greater Union

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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