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Le Havre (2011)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  8 September 2011 (Germany)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 14,240 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 39 user | 201 critic | 26 from

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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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 »

Parents Guide:




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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  »

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User Reviews

Le Havre
19 January 2012 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Le Havre is a film from Finland in French with English subtitles. The film focuses on a middle aged man named Marcel, who makes a living going around town and working as a shoe shiner. Business is not always great and at home Marcel lives a very simple life with his much adored wife, Arletty. One day a group of refugees are found in town and one of them, a young boy named, Idrissa escapes and is wanted by the local chief inspector and the police. Marcel one day stumbles across the boy and shows kindness to him and the next thing he knows, Idrissa shows up at his home. The rest of the story is about how out of his way, Marcel will go to hide and protect the boy from the police and to find a way to get him back with his family. Le Havre is a great film on several different levels. The acting here from the whole cast is all very good here and just their facial expressions and deadpan looks say a lot even when there is nothing in particular to be said. They convey the feelings and thoughts and emotions of their characters perfectly. The direction and writing of this film by Aki Kaurismaki is also a real delight here. He provides us with some very interesting characters and a good story to use and put them to work in. I also found that the film had just the right blend of humour and drama. Ultimately this is a feel good film and I think almost anybody who watches it will leave feeling very happy and joyful. The story and events in the film are simple enough and nothing is done to extravagance, but I think what really got me about the whole thing was the kindness not only Marcel, but his friends and neighbours, show to Idrissa, knowing that if they are caught, they too could be in a lot of trouble. It was really refreshing to see these characters live their simple yet happy lives and find happiness in things we take for granted and how when one needs help, they will be the first ones there to lend a hand and offer support. They work together well as a community and more than that they are great friends and neighbours who look out for each other. That was what I really thought got me about Le Havre, the basic message of the kindness of strangers and being the good Samaritan and helping out your fellow man. The film I might add is also quite a good looking film and I really admired it's cinematography. At one time it shows buildings and homes in bright primary colours and then goes to show us bleak and older homes that are a bit run down and much more simple. The colour scheme and the effect of this further added to my appreciation of the film and how these characters live. The cinematography actually reminded me of the works of French cinematographer Raoul Coutard, whose work I came to know and love in Jean-Luc Godard's films such as Contempt (which looks absolutely exquisite on it's Blu Ray release), but now back to Le Havre. This is a film where much joy and laughter can be had, but also gives us hope for each other and the human race. The film may be a little unrealistic in that regard of showing the goodness in people, but any film that has that as it's central message and gives us something to not only think about, but to feel good about after is a winner in my books. It may even get you to re-evaluate your own attitudes and perspectives on things, so keep an open mind while watching. This is one of the most entertaining and inspiring films of 2011 and also one of the best.

20 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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