Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki goes about his business very quietly. Although he seldom leads viewers down a blind alley, little is known about the filmmaker’s work in the United States. Le Havre is his fourth Cannes entry, and it has already collected a few prestigious prizes on the festival circuit. It’s a lot lighter than his normal fare; after all, his debut was an adaptation of Crime and Punishment. The title of this film is also the name of a French city, which here is peopled by a unique cast of characters—a struggling author turned shoe-shine man, a young African refugee, and a fedora-clad detective hunting for the missing boy. There can be a cultural barrier in addition to the subtitled-language barrier with a lot of foreign films, but Kaurismäki’s spare direction and great faces make every scene more absorbing.
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Producer: Aki Kaurismäki, Fabienne Vonier and Reinhard Brundig
Cast: André Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Elina Salo, Évelyne Didi, Pierre Etaix, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Blondin Miguel, Quoc Nguyen, François Monnié and Roberto Piazza