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Friday, 23 November 2012

A review on whimsicality, on a whim

I set out to study and decided to paint my nails instead. As long as I was painting them, I decided I might as well watch a film.

The film in question is Le Havre, a film SmTn recommended. I recognised Kati Outinen almost immediately (her accent gave her away), but didn't stop to check until the film was over. I didn't think much of it until I checked to see if inspector Monet was the same as the one from Victor Victoria, but it turns out Le Havre is directed by Aki Kaurismäki. You wouldn't recognise him on his own, just from reading the blog, because I didn't know it myself until I found out he directed Kauas pilvet karkaavat. In case the name doesn't ring a bell, it most likely doesn't, that's the film I sat through and didn't like one minute of. I'm not going to check, but I'm pretty sure I said I couldn't stop watching it in spite of how horrible it was. 

I can't say if it was the French that made it different (no, it didn't... but French people certainly seem warmer), the fact that this story was about a rather adorable old man (nope), or the fact that SmTn suggested it (this might actually have influenced me) but I didn't hate it. Moreover, I quite liked it. 

I still don't like the first film, mind you.

The charm of Le Havre is in the underlying comedy and lack of complete seriousness. While it's still, to a great extent, a very serious film about very real and very serious problems, it's a nicer introduction than most. Where Kauas pilvet karkaavat made me cringe knowing things couldn't possibly work out well, Le Havre surprised me showing me things could go better than I expected (only just pushing the boundaries of what is credible). 

Though the 1980s setting put me off a tiny bit, I understood it's intended to be set in such a time for some artistic reason and I went with it. 

The simplicity and minimality of the film quite opened my mind a little. Whereas I might have found it dry and a little boring, I gained some perspective. This is entirely on SmTn. He's far from being a boring bloke, no matter how much he worries about boring me with his stories about fishing and setting up a sound system. Like an onion (thanks, Shrek!), it's all about the layers. I need not go on and on about how wonderfully complex he is, that's not where these paragraphs are going. We will, for now, focus on his way of communicating. 

It's not that his language is simple because English isn't his first language. He uses simple words because he doesn't need more. He is a particularly refreshing and sincere kind of eloquent. From where he stands, he has a rather clear view of things and a unique way to look at them. That's how he can come up with lovely, and very to-the-point, analogies. 

Well, it occurs to me that Aki Kaurismäki has a similar way of telling his stories. He doesn't use complicated settings, dialogues, soundtracks or stories because he doesn't need to. He knows exactly what he sees in the world and how he wants to represent it. 

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