Le Havre

Released:  2011

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

SUMMARY:  In the French port city of Le Havre, former writer Marcel Marx (Andre Wilms) lives with his wife, Arletty (Kati Outinen) and their dog, Laika.  He know works as a shoeshiner, and scrapes a meager living for his family.  One day an investigator at the dock hears a noise inside one of the shipping containers stored there; when investigators open it up, they find a number of refugees from Gabon inside.  These people intended to go to London, but the container was left in Le Havre for an extended time.  While the investigators and regfugees stare at each other, a young boy in the container suddenly starts running away; the investigators do not follow him, as they do not want to leave the rest of the refugees.  However, they soon organize a search party to find the boy.  The first person to encounter the boy, though, is Marcel, when he goes to the pier to eat his lunch one day.  He is able to ask the boy if he is hungry before being interrupted by Inspector Monet (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), who is on the search team.  The Inspector does not find the boy, and the next day Marcel leaves a sandwich, water and some money at the pier.  Marcel is having troubles of his own at home:  Arletty is sick, and has been admitted to the hospital.  She is told that the disease is incurable, and that she only has a short time to live, but asks the doctor not to reveal this to Marcel.  Not long after leaving the food at the pier, Marcel finds the boy, Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), asleep in his shed.  He takes the boy in, but warns him that he cannot be seen, as he will be arrested and sent back to Gabon.  He also secretly enlists the help of several of his neighbors.

However, Marcel realizes that Idrissa cannot stay with him forever.  He learns that the boy has a grandfather in a refugee camp, so he starts looking for him, leaving Idrissa with a neighbor while he is gone.  Idrissa is nearly caught when he sneaks out to shine shoes for money, but manages to get away.  Marcel eventually finds the grandfather, after a bit of a wild goose chase, and learns that the boy’s mother is already in London (his father is deceased).  The grandfather is able to provide the mother’s address in London, and begs Marcel to make sure that the boy does not get deported.  Marcel agrees to do this, and talks to a friend with a boat about transporting Idrissa.  The French man agrees to transport Idrissa to British waters for only fuel costs, but the British captain he will rendezvous with wants a tremendous sum of money — 3000 euros.  Marcel does not have this much money, and does not want to take the money of his neighbors, though they offer.  Finally, one of them comes up with an idea:  a “trendy” charity concert, performed by local musician Little Bob.  Unfortunately, Little Bob has recently been left by his wife, and refuses to perform until she comes back.  Marcel manages to arrange this, and Little Bob performs to great success.  Just as Marcel is putting Idrissa on the boat, Inspector Monet and a team shows up.  Monet opens the hold and sees Idrissa inside, but surprisingly, he proceeds to sit on the cover and tell his team that the boy is not aboard.  Idrissa and the crew are able to leave safely, along with the money for the British boat.  Marcel then goes to the hospital to see Arletty.  When he enters her room, nobody is there, and a package he had sent earlier is sitting, still wrapped on the bed.  A nurse comes in and takes Marcel to a different room, telling him that he can pick up Arletty’s belongings in a few minutes.  When he walks into the other room, Marcel finds Arletty standing before him as the doctors discuss their disbelief:  Arletty has miraculously been cured.  She leaves that very day with Marcel, and the two return hom together.

MY TAKE:  Like yesterday’s review, I am going to start this one by saying that this is a weird movie.  There is a plot, and it’s pretty well made, but it’s just . . .weird.  It’s hard to describe.  Maybe it’s the feeling of the movie:  Marcel is facing the death of his wife (even though he doesn’t know it) and hiding a young boy who is in the country illegally, while trying to figure out what to do with that boy.  However, things never feel rushed or downcast.  The result is kind of nice, as you don’t ever doubt that Idrissa will make it out, but it also levels out any emotions you might have felt during the movie.  It also plays like an ironic or black comedy, but I didn’t find it particularly funny.  It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s definitely not a great one.

RATING:  Weird.

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