Marcel Marx

Marcel Marx

Film is a study in humanities

The next Vernon Film Society movie is Le Havre, which screens at the Vernon Towne Cinema on Monday.

The next Vernon Film Society movie is Le Havre, which screens at the Vernon Towne Cinema on Monday.

Interestingly this film was filmed and directed by a Finnish director (Aki Kaurismaki) although it is in French and takes place wholly in France in the northern port city of Le Havre.

The film tells the story of a young African refugee who comes under the protection of a French shoe-shine man and his neighbours.

Marcel, the shoe-shine man (Andre Wilms), was a writer, something of a bohemian  who now lives in a part of town notable for its poverty and the unpretentious friendliness of its residents.

The film itself seems to belong to another era –– a time of simplicity and thrift and with neighbours knowing one another, visiting the bar, local grocer and cafes and the director deliberately pacing the action almost as a protest against the slickness and speed of the modern age.

Marcel plies his trade in the local train station and  tries to stay clear of the local police, although a sad-eyed detective (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) plays cat and mouse trying to find the illegal immigrants. Although he prowls around he may be friendlier than the locals suspect.

In the midst of coping with the illness of his wife, Marcel must figure out how he can hide the boy and arrange for his safe passage to England, where members of his family have ended up.

At first glance it may seem as if this story would be one of sadness and despair, but it is one of hope and innate optimism and shows how ordinary people can behave decently. Some may see it as something of a fairytale but it is a story full of humour, realistic in its portrayal with great performances from all the actors, both French and Finnish.

Le Havre is the Finnish entry for the Oscar foreign film category and won the 2011 Critic’s Award at Cannes. It is in French with English subtitles.

Le Havre screens at the Towne Cinema Monday at the usual times of 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. All tickets are $7 available at the door and one week prior at the theatre and the Bean Scene.