Cheers for Kaurismaki's Le Havre, jeers for Tree of Life, photo-op for Brangelina
A man walks into a bar with a pineapple… this is not a joke. Or maybe it is, because you never know with wacky Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki. His latest, Le Havre, premiering Tuesday, features a loveable cast of bizarre characters, all over 50, except for young stowaway Idrissa.
The story takes place in the French channel port of Le Havre. Marcel Marx, played by André Wilms, is a bohemian writer-cum-shoeshine man, married to Arletty (Kati Outinen). For Marcel freedom is important, and that’s why he’s self-employed.
One day, a security guard finds Gabonese refugees in a container on its way to London. Idrissa, a 10-year-old played by Blondin Miguel, runs away from the police and is on the loose in Le Havre.
While the local newspapers speculate that the child could be a member of al-Qaeda, the police are desperately looking for him.
Inspector Monet, played by veteran actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin, orders the police not to to shoot the child when he flees from the container. He’s an odd man who has morals, and he doesn’t believe that immigration is a crime.
Meanwhile, Marcel discovers Idrissa by the port. The boy eventually ends up at Marcel’s house. His presence fills the gap that Arletty leaves when she finds out she has a fatal disease and must stay in the hospital.
Marcel hatches a plan to pay for Idrissa to be smuggled to London, where his mother lives, getting actual 1970s French cult blues band Little Bob to perform to raise the 3,000 euros needed for the passage.
There are some funny scenes and excellent dialogue. Kaurismaki plays off of the idea that Finnish people have no sense of humour, bringing in word jokes and sight gags into the most serious situations.
But throughout all the humour Kaurismaki makes a statement - and a stand - against criminialising migrants who need help, especially in France, as he plays news reports of refugee camps in Calais.
Le Havre garnered tons of applause, quite the opposite of one of the most talked-about movies at Cannes this year.
Few cheers and a lot of jeers followed the showing of director Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life, a two-hour mishmash of three different stories with very little in common.
Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain are Mr and Mrs O’Brien, a couple raising their three children in Waco, Texas, in the 1950s.
The flashbacks come as their eldest - played by Sean Penn, who is probably on the screen a total of five minutes - looks back on his childhood and wonders about the meaning of life.
In between, bring on the dinosaurs! Quixotically Malick decided to break up the two stories with a 15-minute shot of the cosmos, complete with rich orchestration.
Malick is showing the beginning of the world, “so dinosaurs were needed,” said producer Sara Green. Was she joking? Green alluded to the fact that the computer-animated dinosaur scene was a controversial one.
Some journalists were upset that Malick, a known recluse, didn’t show his face. Who did turn up and made an eloquent show of it was Brad Pitt, waxing poetic about Malick’s let’s-get-whatever-we-can-in-two-takes style of filming.
Ultimately, the best thing about the film was the fact that the king and queen of Hollywood, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, aka Brangelina, walked the red carpet for the premiere.
Media darlings, Brangelina obliged the paparrazzi and the crowds, posing for a number of photos before entering the Palais.
Nobody walked in with a pineapple, however.