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Le Havre

Le Havre -

Jordan Belfort once stated that there is no nobility in poverty. What this movie presupposes is...maybe there is? Charming, funny and heartwarming in equal measure, it demonstrates that a community, even a small one, can make a difference. Are proud shoe shiner Marcel Marx (Wilms) and devoted wife Arletty (Outinen) modeled after Fargo's Marge and Norm Gunderson? I'm not sure, but they remind me of the couple in many ways. Marcel, like Marge, may never be rich, but he enjoys his job and he is good at it. Plus, his reason for enjoying it is adorable: in short, it's one of the few that lets him be close to people. As for his illegal immigrant ward, the fact that he's a child who just wants to make it across the English Channel so he can be with his mother should be enough, but the movie is still bound to penetrate the heart of even the most ardent immigration opponent. It's no coincidence that Idrissa (Miguel) is Gabonese, not to mention that Marcel's co-worker, Chang (not his real name), is Vietnamese, for starters. As of writing this, I have only seen a few of Kaurismaki's movies, but I've seen enough to say that it continues his tradition of showing the world from the perspective of the bakers, shopkeepers, barkeepers, etc., each of whom constitute Marcel's adorably merry band. They work together to hide and protect Idrissa in continuously amusing ways from police inspector Monet (Daroussin). A lesser movie would portray Monet as a moustache-twirling villain, but it even has the heart to make him just as human as those who he investigates. I also like how the movie manages to write a love letter to its titular city at the same time. Local blues legend Little Bob not only shows up to this party, but also performs, for instance.

This is the kind of movie that makes you smile a little wider and that makes the sun seem brighter after watching it. Again, it not only makes you believe that even a small band of friends of moderate means working towards a common cause can not only do some actual good, but also might perform a miracle. It will also give you hope that our impulse to help those in need no matter where they come from will remain intact. This is a sequel of sorts to La Vie en Boheme, which also features the Marcel character, but it's not necessary to watch it first, especially since Marcel summarizes who he was in that movie. Oh, and speaking of Little Bob, keep your eyes open and you may spot another legendary French entertainer.