Marcel Marx (André Wilms) is a shoeshiner who becomes the unlikely protector of Idrissa, a young illegal immigrant from Africa (Blondin Miguel). As he tries to smuggle Idrissa to London, where his mother is working, he gains the support of his neighbors in Le Havre – Yvette the bread-seller, Claire the mistress of the local bar, and his fellow shoeshiner Chang, who was once an illegal immigrant, too. At the same time he has to fend off the immigration police, who might deport Idrissa back to Africa, and deal with the illness of his wife, Arletty (Kati Outinen).
With the world becoming more interconnected, it’s interesting to see how France is dealing with immigration issues as portrayed in this film. Early immigrants in the French society have managed to create niches of their own, but whether they’re able to integrate properly into the general community isn’t discussed deeply here – the story focuses on the relationship between Marcel and Idrissa. If the documentary presented within the film is any sign though, France is still struggling to relate with its immigrant population.
Aside from its theme, what sets this film apart for me is its style. I’m not a film major, but it didn’t look like a movie that was created to appeal solely to the aesthetics of this generation. The acting style was generally deadpan and wooden to a point, but overall the effect was still engaging. The colors are wonderful as well – like vintage prints in motion – and the script was straightforward. I appreciate that because it’s easy to follow.
For Le Havre, 4 out of 5 stars.
This movie was part of the French Film Fest Manila 2015.
*Review originally posted on Facebook.
Photo credit: French Embassy Manille on Facebook