A wonderful celebration of France’s national motto—liberty, equality, fraternity—Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre is also something of a paean to World War II Resistance dramas. Told in Kaurismäki’s signature deadpan style, Le Havre centers around Marcel Marx, a once-famous Parisian writer now making his living shining shoes in the northern port town of the title. Marcel divides his time between drinking with his neighbors at the local bar and caring for his ill wife, Arletty —her name a tribute to the great French actress who made her best-known films in the 1930s and ’40s. But he soon serves a much nobler purpose when he comes to the aid of Idrissa, a young illegal immigrant from Gabon who is trying to join his family in England. Aided by his neighbors, Marcel keeps Idrissa safe from the clutches of the detective who comes looking for him. A film that reminds us of the importance of unsung heroes, Le Havre also highlights a most unlikely, and touching, friendship.
Open Year Round: