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What a beautiful film. A social fairytale about a shoeshiner, his wife and friends in le Havre, and a refugee who happens into their midst. Breathtaking. Sidesplitting. Gentle. Melancholy. True. The news is all bad, but human nature? Slow down, and there is room for hope.

When we came out of the cinema I couldn’t remember which language the film had been in. It was so immediate. Kaurismäki says this is the first installment in a trilogy about life in port cities, and he plans to make follow-ups in Spain and Germany, using the local languages. Very fitting, the director’s linguistic openness, given the nature of habors. The wonderful title song is actually in English. The refrain goes: “Love the sea and you will always be a matelot.”

There’s a micro subplot involving Little Bob and a lady. Little Bob! Never heard of him, but the guy rocks. His band gives a benefit concert in the film:

Masson, Christine (2011). “Interview with Aki Kaurismäki”. English press kit Le Havre. Retrieved 2011-05-21.