Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Le Havre

2011, France/Finland/Germany, directed by Aki Kaurismäki

Though it's a tale told in Kaurismäki's usual magical realist vein -- the kind of lost-in-time alternate universe also inhabited by Jean-Pierre Jeunet or Wes Anderson, to differing effect -- Le Havre nonetheless manages to make some potent points about Europe's migration issues. If the depiction of the lives of migrants doesn't have quite the sharpness of, say, the opening segment of Welcome, for the most part Kaurismäki doesn't soft pedal their reality; when it comes to showing how the authorities deal with "illegals" the tone, and even the colour schemes, shift. The out-of-time quality sometimes produces odd effects: the colour schemes recall the insistently realist tone of a film like Pialat's L'Enfance nue, which was actually made in the 1960s, with even Kaurismäki's film stock seeming to mimic an earlier time. The film is, at its heart, a celebration of a strong local community, able to adapt to new challenges and banding together instinctively when faced with the authority of the state -- perhaps not a perfect depiction of the reality of French working class reactions to new immigrants, but presenting a hopeful alternative path.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States