British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways.
Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
In 1992, Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki directed LA VIE DE BOHEME, where he transplanted to Paris for a story of impoverished, failed artists on the cusp of society. A funny, sad film about art, love, and loss. Nearly twenty years later, Kaurismaki returns to France in LE HAVRE; while some of the humor remains, its story of the impoverished and dispossessed is even more affecting.
LA VIE... showed a painterly visual sense, all the more amazing that it was filmed in black and white. LE HAVRE boasts an equally striking visual sense, with scenes that seem to glow. That said, other elements of the production are less convincing - and at times. almost embarrassing. (For example, a group of black refugees are locked in a container crate for almost a week; when it's opened, no one's hungry or even concerned, and several are freshly shaved.)
LE HAVRE sets up the camera in a stationary spot - much like an old silent - giving the film a real resonance. But this affection for older filmmaking will be familiar for Kaurismaki fans; his silent, black and white JUHA uses the same minimalistic approach, with good results.
If you're willing to forgive certain production details and the dependence on melodrama, LE HAVRE is a feel-good story of how those of modest means can help those in desperate straits. (LE HAVRE itself was directed under low budget.) The film's humanism is its saving grace. While the filmmaking is occasionally awkward, there's still a lot to be admired here.
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