Just saw Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki’s
newest film Le Havre
at the second run theater here in Seattle. This one has many of his trademark visual motifs and themes (shipping crates, corrugated metal, minimal dialog, deadpan humor, dogs, rock and roll, the marginalized working man, etc), but here all are given a much lighter feel. What’s really great about this film is that it pulls off the difficult task of being touching and heartfelt, without being cloying or sickly sweet. In a similar fashion, Le Havre
addresses difficult the subjects of immigration, refuges, multiculturalism in Europe, all with a light touch that avoids the pitfalls of “topical films” that try so hard to be important.
Kaurismaki’s films are well worth seeking out and luckily today are much easier to find thanks to the efforts of the fine folks at Criterion. Leningrad Cowboys Go America was his big international breakthrough, but personally, I would suggest starting with The Man Without A Past(2003) and then the Proletariat Trilogy – Shadows In Paradise (1986), Ariel (1988), andThe Match Factory Girl (1990).