When you think about France’s relationship with illegal immigration you’re likely to think of right wing politics and camps in Calais being torn down… But Le Havre tackles the subject in a gently warming way, with a liberal bias.
The backdrop is the sleepy Normandy city of the title, and aged shoe shiner Marcel Marx (Andre Wilms) comes across Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), a teenage African boy who recently arrived in a ship’s container. Marcel takes the boy under his wing and with the aid of his misfit friends intends to keep Idrissa safe from deportation, but a pesky caricatured detective is onto him.
Le Havre’s trailer attempts to sell the film as silly and almost screwball-like, quite likely intending to capitalise on the success of last year’s relative-hit French comedy Potiche. But actually it’s quite different to that film. Le Havre is slow and relaxed, it’s subtly funny, and is gently liberal.
It’s quite sweet and charming all round really, managing to wrap up social critique into an enjoyable little film. It is a little film though, it’s not going to pop up on any critics’ end of year lists of art-house favourites – it doesn’t quite do anything original enough or funny enough to massively stand out. But it is entertaining, and if you’re after a warm comedy about a group of misfits banding together for common good, or just after something funny and very watchable, you’ll do well with Le Havre.
Le Havre is released in cinemas and on Curzon on Demand this Friday, April 6.
(You can also find my extended review of Le Havre right here on Flickering Myth).