The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Le Havre | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Le Havre

Directed by: Aki Kaurismaki
Starring: André Wilms, Kati Outinen, Blondin Miguel, Jean-Pierre Darroussin

Affable shoe-shine man Wilms takes up the cause of illegal immigrant Miguel who is seeking passage from the title port to join his mother in London.
From a purely stylistic viewpoint, this movie is beautiful with an eye-popping colour palette not seen in French cinema since the seventies. Of course it's writer-director is an outsider with a romantic view of France, and arguably immigration, purely gleaned from the country's pop culture. Frankly if I were French I'd find the stereotypical tableau on display here quite offensive. Wilms exists on a diet of fresh baguettes and wine while the local cafe plays whimsical chansons from fifty years ago. I almost expected a mime to turn up with garlic strung around his neck.
Scratch beneath the surface and there's little holding this together. Wilms is charming in a fairytale grandfather sort of way but most of the other cast members are wooden, in particular Finnish actress Outinen. Maybe she struggles with the French language but the desk I'm writing this on has more personality.
The problem with European cinema is that it's an old boys network. If you're an established film-maker like Kaurismaki you don't have to worry about funding so you can churn out half-developed scripts like this. The ending of this is so bad that a primary school English teacher would throw it back in the face of the pupil who submitted it. (It wasn't all a dream but it wasn't far off.)
If you have a romanticised naive vision of Europe you might enjoy this. If like me you actually live here this will just be lamentable for the wrong reasons. There are beautiful images in this film, they just don't work so well strung together over ninety minutes.
For a French language movie about the kindness of strangers go watch "The Kid With A Bike",  this one's not worth the schlepp.