Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Finland/France/Germany, 2011. Sputnik, Pyramide Productions, Pandora Filmproduktion, Arte France Cinema, ZDF/Arte, Finnish Film Foundation, Canal+, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Yleisradio, CineCinema, Arte France, Région Haute-Normandie, Pôle Image Haute-Normandie. Screenplay by Aki Kaurismaki. Cinematography by Timo Salminen. Produced by Aki Kaurismaki. Production Design by Wouter Zoon. Costume Design by Frederic Cambier. Film Editing by Timo Linnasalo. Cannes Film Festival 2011. National Board of Review Awards 2011. National Society of Film Critics Awards 2011. Toronto International Film Festival 2011.
A shoe shiner lives a sketchy life in the Norman town of Le Havre, completely approved of by his sweet Finnish wife (Kati Outinen) who loves and takes care of him despite the fact that he can barely provide for the two of them. Things are thrown up in the air when she is taken to hospital with a terminal illness and, at the same time, a cargo load of illegal immigrants lands on the shores of their town. A young boy escapes the police and, thinking he is in London, wanders through the town before ending up in our hero’s company and, eventually, under his care. From there proceeds a drily humorous, endlessly moving tale done in the style of insouciant visual originality that only Aki Kaurismaki can bring to the screen. This one is among his most heartfelt ventures, and the performances and cinematography are outstanding.