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The film Le Havre is the fascinating account of how a poor shoe-shiner named Marcel finds himself looking after a young boy on the run from the police, and his quest to reunite mother and son in London without the interference of the police. A good film, in my opinion; while parts of the humour were undoubtedly lost by my less-than-perfect understanding of spoken French, it was still funny at parts and generally enjoyable. Le Havre is arty, highly stylised and may seem a bit strange, but it is intended to be so. Marcel’s efforts to arrange transport to England for the boy, and to raise money for the purpose are aided by the slightly eccentric characters from his village and closely followed by the creepy ‘commissaire’ who strolls around menacingly in head-to-toe in black clothing, smoking a cigar… and occasionally holding a pineapple.
Marcel’s attempts to raise money for the boy include a charity concert by ‘Little Bob’, who according to Wikipedia, are a French rock group from around the 1970’s. Knowing this before watching the film might help to explain the 5 minute segment involving a close-up of a sweet old man rocking out in a red leather jacket.
Overall Le Havre is fairly light-hearted despite the undercurrent of more serious political issues. Directed by Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, Le Havre won a prize last year at Cannes and was released in France shortly afterwards. It’s out on April 6th in the UK and definitely worth watching if you fancy a change from the same old rom-coms … plus a bit of justifiable language practice.
The UoB Linguist Magazine
Guild of Students,
University of Birmingham