Le Havre (film)

Le Havre

Festival poster
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Produced by Aki Kaurismäki
Written by Aki Kaurismäki
Starring André Wilms
Kati Outinen
Jean-Pierre Darroussin
Blondin Miguel
Cinematography Timo Salminen
Edited by Timo Linnasalo
Pyramide Productions
Pandora Film
Distributed by Future Film Distribution
Release dates
Running time
93 minutes
Country Finland
Language French
Budget € 3.8 million
Box office $12,944,958 [1]

Le Havre is a 2011 comedy-drama film written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki, starring André Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Blondin Miguel. It tells the story of a shoeshiner who tries to save an immigrant child in the French port city Le Havre.[2] The film was produced by Kaurismäki's Finnish company Sputnik with international co-producers in France and Germany. It is Kaurismäki's second French-language film, after La Vie de Bohème from 1992.

The film premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it received the FIPRESCI Prize. Kaurismäki envisions it as the first installment in a trilogy about life in port cities. His ambition is to make follow-ups set in Spain and Germany, shot in the local languages.[3]


Marcel Marx, a former bohemian and struggling author, has given up his literary ambitions and relocated to the port city Le Havre. He leads a simple life based around his wife Arletty, his favourite bar and his not too profitable profession as a shoeshiner. As Arletty suddenly becomes seriously ill, Marcel's path crosses with an underage illegal immigrant from Africa. Marcel and friendly neighbors and other townspeople help to hide him from the police. The police inspector may, or may not, be hot on their heels.[4]



Kaurismäki had the idea of a film about an African child who arrives in Europe three years before the production started.[5] His original intention was to set the story on the Mediterranean coast, preferably in Italy or Spain, but he had difficulties finding a suitable city. According to Kaurismäki, he "drove through the whole seafront from Genoa to Holland", and eventually settled on Le Havre in northern France, which attracted him with its atmosphere and music scene.[6][7]

The script was written in the summer 2009.[8] The names of several characters were chosen as homages to French film icons, such as Arletty and Jacques Becker. The name of the lead character, Marcel Marx, was inspired by Karl Marx. The character had previously appeared in Kaurismäki's 1992 film La Vie de Bohème, where he also was played by André Wilms. The character Monet was inspired by Porfiry Petrovich, the detective from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment.[7]

The budget was 3.8 million euro and included 750,000 euro in support from the Finnish Film Foundation.[9] Kaurismäki's company Sputnik was the main producer, with Finnish broadcaster YLE, France's Pyramide Productions and Germany's Pandora Film as co-producers.[8] The local rock singer Little Bob was cast in the film; Kaurismäki said that "Le Havre is the Memphis, Tennessee of France and Little Bob a.k.a. Roberto Piazza is the Elvis of this Kingdom as long as Johnny Hallyday stays in Paris and even then it would be a nice fight."[6] Filming started 23 March and ended 12 May 2010.[10]


Le Havre premiered on 17 May 2011 in competition at the 64th Cannes Film Festival.[11] It was the fourth time a film by Kaurismäki competed at the festival, after Drifting Clouds, The Man Without a Past and Lights in the Dusk.[12] The Finnish premiere is set to 9 September 2011 through Future Film Distribution.[13] Pyramide Distribution will release it in France on 21 December.[14] Janus Films acquired the American distribution rights.[15]

Critical response

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "fresh" score of 99% based on reviews from 71 critics.[16]

Leslie Felperin wrote in Variety: "It's all rather jolly and slight, and certainly doesn't break any new ground for the Finnish auteur, even though it foregrounds more influences than usual from French filmmakers like Marcel Carné (obvious, given the protagonists' names), Jean-Pierre Melville, Robert Bresson and others. But on its own terms, Le Havre is a continual pleasure, seamlessly blending morose and merry notes with a deftness that's up there with Kaurismaki's best comic work." Felperin complimented the craft of Kaurismäki's regular cinematographer Timo Salminen and editor Timo Linnasalo, and wrote: "It's like listening to a band that's been cheerfully churning it out for years, whose members all know each other's timings inside out, not unlike onscreen performers Little Bob and his grizzled, perfectly in-sync crew."[17]


The film received the FIPRESCI Prize for best film at the Cannes Film Festival. It also received a Special Mention from the Ecumenical Jury.[18] The dog Laika received a special Jury Prize from the Palm Dog jury.[19] The film went on to win the top prize for best international film at the 2011 Munich International Film Festival.[20] It was selected as a nominee for the European Parliament's Lux Prize.[21] The film was selected as the Finnish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards,[22][23] but it did not make the final shortlist.[24] Le Havre also won the Gold Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival.

See also


  1. "Le Havre (2011) - Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  2. Smith, Ian Hayden (2012). International Film Guide 2012. p. 114. ISBN 978-1908215017.
  3. Svanbäck, Andrea (2011-05-24). "'Som tur finns alltid gårdagen'". Hufvudstadsbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  4. "Synopsis" (PDF). English press kit Le Havre. Retrieved 2011-05-21.
  5. Staff writer (2010-04-17). "Le Havre, tout un film". paris-normandie.fr (in French). Paris-Normandie. Retrieved 2010-04-18.
  6. 1 2 Masson, Christine (2011). "Interview with Aki Kaurismäki" (PDF). English press kit Le Havre. Retrieved 2011-05-21.
  7. 1 2 Le Fol, Sébastien (2011-05-18). "La France d'Aki Kaurismäki". Le Figaro (in French). Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  8. 1 2 Staff writer (2010-02-19). "Aki Kaurismäki Speaks Français In New Film". nordiskfilmogtvfond.com. Nordisk Film & TV Fond. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  9. Staf writer (2010-02-16). "Kaurismäki får 750 000 euro till sin nya film". YLE Nyheter (in Swedish). YLE. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  10. Staff writer (2010-02-17). "Synopsis des prochains tournages dans la cité". paris-normandie.fr (in French). Paris-Normandie. Retrieved 2010-04-01.
  11. "Horaires 2011" (PDF). festival-cannes.com (in French). Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
  12. Suárez López, Gonzalo (2011-04-20). "Von Trier and Kaurismäki lead strong Nordic contingent". Cineuropa. Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  13. "Le Havre". ses.fi. Finnish Film Foundation. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
  14. "Le Havre". AlloCiné (in French). Tiger Global. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  15. Kay, Jeremy (2011-07-26). "Cannes hits Le Havre, Habemus Papam find US homes". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  16. "Le Havre". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  17. Felperin, Leslie (2011-05-17). "Le Havre". Variety. Retrieved 2011-05-21.
  18. Hopewell, John (2011-05-21). "'Le Havre' win top Fipresci crits' award". Variety. Retrieved 2011-05-21.
  19. Nissim, Mayer (2011-05-21). "'The Artist' Uggy wins 2011 'Palm Dog'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  20. Roxborough, Scott (2011-07-04). "Aki Kaurismaki's 'Le Havre,' Paddy Considine's 'Tyrannosaur' Win Big In Munich". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  21. Holdsworth, Nick (2011-07-03). "Euro Parliament Lux lineup unveiled". Variety. Retrieved 2011-07-04.
  22. Barraclough, Leo (2011-09-14). "Kaurismaki's 'Le Havre' to rep Finland at Oscars". Variety. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
  23. "63 Countries Vie for 2011 Foreign Language Film Oscar". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-14.
  24. "9 Foreign Language Films Vie for Oscar". Retrieved 2012-01-19.

External links

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