Le Havre, March 4, 2012 (a change in schedule)

This Sunday, March 4, 2012 Cinema Art Bethesda will present the French and Finnish film, Le Havre. The film is 93 minutes long and in French with English subtitles.

This film has had limited release and is still in theaters. Don’t let this opportunity pass by to see this wonderful first run feature film and discuss it afterward.

Synopsis

Screenshot from Le HavreIn this warmhearted portrait of the French harbor city that gives the film its name, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (André Wilms), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoeshiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville and Marcel Carné, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight.

(text taken directly from official site)

Selected Awards and Accolades

Winner FIPRESCI Prize (competition)
Cannes Film Festival 2011

Winner Gold Hugo Award (Best Feature)
Chicago International Film Festival

Winner Jussi Award (Best Cinematography, Editing, Film, Script and Supporting Actress)
Jussi Awards 2012

Selected Reviews

The New York Times
— A. O. Scott

“Le Havre,” named for the industrial port city in northern France where it takes place, is a tale of lower-depths solidarity, a stylized and sentimental fairy tale about the way the world might be, grounded in a frank recognition of the way it is. You could easily imagine this story — about a young African refugee who comes under the protection of a French shoeshine man and his neighbors — as a grimly realistic exercise in guilt-inducing consciousness-raising. Or else as a self-congratulatory melodrama of awakened conscience. But Aki Kaurismaki, the prolific Finnish filmmaker who has become a major inheritor of the comic-humanist tradition of Charlie Chaplin, Jean Renoir and Jacques Tati, does not rub our faces in hardship. Figuring that we already know something about how harsh life can be, he reminds us of its modest charms and fleeting beauties, and of how easy it is, in the face of cruelty, to behave decently. “Le Havre” is also a love letter to France, in particular to a half-imaginary, half-vanished realm of proletarian Frenchness incarnated in the films and popular music of the first half of the 20th century. It is no coincidence that one of its characters (played by the Finnish actress Kati Outinen, a fixture of Mr. Kaurismaki’s universe) is named Arletty, after the singer and actress who embodied the spirit and pathos of the Gallic working class in the 1930s and ’40s.

The Washington Post
— Ann Hornaday

With its ragtag cast of cinematic archetypes (from Jean-Pierre Darroussin’s trench-coated cop to Marcel’s faithful pooch named Laika), “Le Havre” is propelled by equal parts theology and whimsy. It’s a treacherous combination that in Kaurismaki’s capable hands results in one of the finest films of the year, a comedy of unusual compassion and generosity that can get away with its most fanciful contrivances because its style is so simple and its tone so gentle and forgiving. “Le Havre” is a playful parable that conveys profound truths about compassion, humility and sacrifice. It offers proof that miracles do happen – especially in Kaurismaki’s lyrically hardscrabble neighborhood.

Trailer available at official site or watch embedded YouTube video below.

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