Up­lift­ing story a hit at fes­ti­val

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY MOVIES -

T’S al­ways a treat to wel­come a film by Aki Kau­ris­maki, Fin­land’s ir­re­press­ible mas­ter of dead­pan hu­mour.

His lat­est, Le Havre – a hit at the 2011 New York Film Fes­ti­val – is set in the French port city of the ti­tle, home to down-on-his-luck shoeshine man Mar­cel Marx (An­dre Wilms); his ail­ing wife, Ar­letty (Kau­ris­maki muse Kati Ou­ti­nen); and their lov­able mutt, Laika, played by the di­rec­tor’s dog.

Mar­cel’s low-key life is thrown into dis­ar­ray when he be­friends an African lad, Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), who’s be­ing hunted by the po­lice af­ter es­cap­ing from a ship con­tainer filled with il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

Mar­cel’s neigh­bours join with him to hide and feed the boy. Then they put on a ‘‘trendy char­ity con­cert’’ fea­tur­ing Lit­tle Bob, the Elvis of Le Havre, to raise money to smug­gle Idrissa to his mother in London.

Kau­ris­maki, whose charm­ing movies in­clude Len­ingrad Cow­boys Go Amer­ica and The Match Fac­tory Girl, is able to turn scenes of peo­ple star­ing into space into high art. Who needs di­a­logue when ex­pres­sion­less faces will do?

He gets strong sup­port from a droll cast that in­cludes Jean-pierre Dar­roussin as a black-clad cop named Monet, whose gruff ex­te­rior hides a gen­uinely nice guy.

French New Wave icon Jean-pierre Leaud has a funny cameo as an in­for­mant.

Le Havre is warm-hearted and up­lift­ing, with­out be­ing schmaltzy or preachy. And, with its il­le­gal-alien theme, it’s dead-on timely, par­tic­u­larly in Australia.

opens to­day.

Mar­cel An­dre Wilms and Idrissa Blondin Miguel in a scene from French film

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