He winds up at the train station, where shoeshiner Marcel (André Wilms) is on lunch break. Though an inspector (Jean-Pierre Darroussin) is on Idrissa’s trail, Marcel takes him in as his wife Arletty (Kati Outinen) becomes gravely ill, and assures himself he will see the boy reaches his mother in London. Eventually, his neighbors and other workers pitch in and lend a hand and money. One offers the $200 he was saving to buy his daughter a bike.
Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. And that’s what Le Havre really is. Aki Kaurismäki’s film is about good people doing good things. It doesn’t matter your stance on illegal immigration, just as it doesn’t matter if you’ve had your shoes shined or not. It matters that you understand that some people don’t view immigrants as immigrants, but as people.
But Le Havre is not stiff. It addresses the question of, as one character puts it, “Why should society dictate what’s right and wrong?” but does so with a smile. It’s feel-good without being sappy. Above all, it’s universal and human.
André Wilms (13:08): In this 2012 interview, Wilms, who plays Marcel, discusses Le Havre and working with director Aki Kaurismäki.
Kati Outinen (48:08): In this interview from the Finnish television series Mansikkapaikka, Outinen, who plays Arletty, discusses her work and collaborations with Kaurismäki.
Little Bob in Concert (8:15): This 2010 concert features singer Little Bob (shiny red jacket and all) performing two songs: “Libero” and “Sheia ‘n’ Willy.”
Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a 24-page booklet featuring two pieces: an essay titled “Always Be a Human” by film critic Michael Sicinski and a conversation between director Kaurismäki and film historian Peter von Bagh.