It’s not hard to understand why Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre has become a major hit on the international film festival circuit, and found a spot on a number of critics’ top-ten lists for the year. The film starts out gloomy—a man is inexplicably shot in a train station, and the wife of our hero, ex-bohemian shoeshine guy Marcel (French actor André Wilms), becomes seriously ill. But Le Havre has a few tricks up its sleeve. When a cargo container bound for London mistakenly arrives at the French port city of Le Havre and is found to contain African refugees, a boy escapes and a police manhunt begins. Gloom gradually turns to whimsy, and deadpan humor softens otherwise harsh reality, as the warm-hearted and life-affirming Le Havre gears up. At a time when hysteria rules discussion of immigration-related issues, human decency appears a most welcome guest at the table. Kudos to Chalmette Movies and the New Orleans Film Society for bringing this small gem to town.
Le Havre will be shown Sunday at 2:30 p.m., and Monday and Tuesday at 7: 30 p.m, at Chalmette Movies, 8700 W. Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette.