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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Le Havre (2011)

Le Havre (2011)

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Released 15-Aug-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Music Video-Two performances by French rocker Little Bob
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Four Directors Suite trailers
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 89:42 (Case: 93)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Aki Kaurismäki

Madman Entertainment
Starring André Wilms
Kati Outinen
Jean-Pierre Darroussin
Blondin Miguel
Elina Salo
Evelyne Didi
Quoc Dung Nguyen
François Monnié
Little Bob
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     On the Janus Films website, the plot synopsis to this film is summarised thus: In this warmhearted portrait of the French harbor city that gives the film its name, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (Andre Wilms), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoeshiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville and Marcel Carne, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight.

     A.O.Scott in his excellent, succinct New York Times review writes: “Le Havre,” named for the industrial port city in northern France where it takes place, is a tale of lower-depths solidarity, a stylized and sentimental fairy tale about the way the world might be, grounded in a frank recognition of the way it is. You could easily imagine this story — about a young African refugee who comes under the protection of a French shoeshine man and his neighbors — as a grimly realistic exercise in guilt-inducing consciousness-raising. Or else as a self-congratulatory melodrama of awakened conscience. But Aki Kaurismaki, the prolific Finnish filmmaker who has become a major inheritor of the comic-humanist tradition of Charlie Chaplin, Jean Renoir and Jacques Tati, does not rub our faces in hardship. Figuring that we already know something about how harsh life can be, he reminds us of its modest charms and fleeting beauties, and of how easy it is, in the face of cruelty, to behave decently. Read the full review here.

     This is a warm, feel-good movie that will make you think again about refugees and their flight to freedom from oppression and their efforts in settling in a developed first-world country. The beauty of this film is that the main theme is presented in a comedic way to allow the audience to empathise with the main characters more. For me personally, I enjoyed the obvious 'Jacques Tati' inspired main character of Marcel Marx, played by Andre Wilms and the similar homage to the colour photography of Tati's films, Mon Oncle and Playtime. Director Aki Kaurismaki also throws in references to famous French cinema stars of the 1930s and 1940s such as Marcel Carne and Arletty. If you are familiar with Marcel Carne's 1938 film, Port of Shadows, where Jean Gabin plays an army deserter who escapes to Le Havre, then you'll enjoy Kaurismaki's modernised (and tweaked) plot to that film here.

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Transfer Quality


     In my opinion, this is a port of the Region 2 Artificial Eye DVD release

     The aspect ratio is 1:85:1 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

     The average bitrate for this DVD is 7.15 m/b per sec. The transfer is sharp, contains sufficient shadow detail and does not contain unnecessary grain. So, overall it is quite good, however the Region 1 Criterion release is slightly better.

     The colour scheme of this film emphasises primary colours strongly. I believe this is a reference to Jacques Tati's films from the 1950s and 1960s. The Region 4 Directors Suite release is slightly more pale and has a greenish/blue overtone in comparison to the Region 1 Criterion release. Having said this, this transfer is quite fine.

     There is a fine layer of film grain in the transfer. This was an intentional addition to the transfer, I believe added as a homage to the classic French films of the mid-20th century.

     The only aspect of the transfer that I don't like is the fact we get burnt-in English subtitles! Why, oh why? I would opine that Madman had no choice in this matter, as they have offered subtitling in yellow and white on their past Directors Suite releases.

     The RSDL change is unobtrusive. It occurs at 67:18 during a scene change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     This is mainly a dialogue-driven film, so surround sound is subtly used.

     The main soundtrack is a French Dolby Digital 5.1 mix encoded at 448 kbps. The dialogue is clear and audio is synchronised.

     Little Bob has a musical number in the film which will get your surround system going!

     Otherwise, the surround channel usage is sparse and used for background effects rather than dynamic ones like most contemporary Hollywood films.

     The subwoofer is limited to the musical performance by Little Bob mainly!

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Two performances by French rocker Little Bob

     Two music videos are included. The first one, Libero is from the movie, whilst the second, Sheila n Willy is presented here as an extra. Both music videos feature musicians on stage and run for about 4 minutes each.

Theatrical Trailer

     We get a theatrical trailer in widescreen which runs for 2:14, and four Directors Suite trailers for The Illusionist, La Danse, The Well-Digger's Daughter and Sister Smile.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 Criterion release of Le Havre contains a slightly sharper transfer at an average bitrate of 8.69 m/b per sec. There are also more extras on a second disc. These include a 13-minute interview with actor Andre Wilms, a 45 minute featurette from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, including a press conference and a French television interview with cast and crew, a 48 minute Finnish television interview with actress Kati Outinen, Little Bob's two videos and the trailer. There is an additional booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Sicinski and a 2011 conversation between Kaurismaki and film historian Peter von Bagh.


    This is a feel-good film that I know you'll return to. If you are a film buff like me, you will enjoy this film! This is a wonderful homage to the classic French comedies of the past. If you are familiar with these films, give this a go!

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Saturday, December 01, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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