Le Havre (2011)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  8 September 2011 (Germany)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 14,257 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 39 user | 201 critic | 26 from Metacritic.com

When an African boy arrives by cargo ship in the port city of Le Havre, an aging shoe shiner takes pity on the child and welcomes him into his home.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
André Wilms ...
Elina Salo ...
Evelyne Didi ...
Quoc Dung Nguyen ...
Chang (as Quoc-Dung Nguyen)
Laïka ...
Laïka - Dog
François Monnié ...
Little Bob ...
Little Bob (as Roberto Piazza)
Le dénonciateur
Vincent Lebodo ...
Umban U'kset ...
Mahamat Saleh
Patrick Bonnel ...
Le directeur du centre de rétention


A dock worker in Le Havre hears a human sound inside one of the containers in port, that container which left Gabon three weeks ago and which was supposed to arrive in London five days after its departure from Gabon, which didn't happen. The Le Havre police and French border guards find a still alive group of illegal African immigrants inside. On the sign from one of his elders, a young teen boy among the illegal immigrants manages to escape, news of which hits the local media. The first friendly face that boy, Idrissa, encounters is that of former artist now aged shoeshine Marcel Marx. Marcel decides to help Idrissa by hiding him in his house, news which slowly trickles through his community of friends - most of whom he associates with at his local bar - and neighbors, most who assist Marcel in this task. Marcel goes to great lengths to find out Idrissa's story, which leads to Marcel's further task of trying to get Idrissa to London, his original end destination. The one neighbor who... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

8 September 2011 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

El puerto  »

Box Office


€3,850,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$26,363 (USA) (21 October 2011)


$611,709 (USA) (13 April 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Finland's official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the 84th Academy Awards 2012. See more »


Marcel Marx: L'argent circule au crepuscule.
See more »


Referenced in The Smallest Red Carpet, But the Biggest Heart (2011) See more »


Written by Einojuhani Rautavaara
Performed by Sveriges Radios Symfoniorkester
Conducted by Mikko Franck
See more »

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User Reviews

Charming and delightful, pure optimistic cinema
23 March 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

These days it seems that French films predominantly fit into one of two categories: Smug, over long and preachy, such as Rust and Bone or Little White Lies. Or they produce deeply involving but simplistic stories containing the most genuine heartfelt emotion such as Amour (in French, therefore French) or The Kid with a Bike. I am happy to say that Le Havre falls in the latter group. In fact the story here is one of pure simplicity and the tone of the film contains nothing but genuine optimism towards the theme of human compassion. That is it, this film has no ulterior motive or no gimmicks, and it is a very simply and extremely involving story based around that one simple theme. However, this film is not just a tribute to human compassion, but contained within it are tributes to the history of cinema that are quite simply a joy to experience. When I say that, the use of music as well the way certain scenes are lit pay a respectful tribute to films of the 40s and 50s throughout the narrative.

This is not to say that this film is not without its realism, Marx and his neighbours all live a humble life bordering on poverty. The plight of Idrissa is unenviable and there is an honest depiction of a refugee camp just outside Calais. However, the theme of Le Havre is not that life is simply good, that would be naive. It is how these characters deal with life and the situations that it presents. Of course it would be so easy to fall into to the trap of patronising and borderline preachy cliché here, but this never happens due to the genuine feeling of honesty depicted throughout the narrative. Every character is presented very honestly with all their flaws quite clear to see, but it is their ability for natural compassion that drives the narrative forward. By the time Le Havre reaches its very satisfying conclusion where there are no loose ends, it is difficult not to feel that not only have you been entertained, but also enlightened.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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