The steal shutters for a newsstand in Le Havre.
July 3, 2021
27 place des Halles Centrales,
Le Havre, France
Sneakers, canvas shoes, a stream of feet. Against the wall, two men standing stoically with their shoeshine boxes.
I’ve heard a few screenwriters tell of learning how to show from a silent movie director.
I recently saw an article about a silent movie star known for minimizing the number of title cards in his films. I think it was Buster Keaton. I try to find confirmation. I see lots of mentions of his stoic face.
I try a new tack. I search for Aki Kaurismäki and Buster Keaton hoping for an interview where he discusses his influences. The second result is an article calling him Finland’s Buster Keaton.
I should mention that the movie is his 2011 film Le Havre. The movie is deliberately slow. Chase scenes where even the younger characters run as if they were on their last legs.
The main character is in a time bubble. Everything around him is from the past while taking place in the present. I laugh when I see that his watering hole is called The Modern. I laugh yet again when the rocker sings a song with the chorus of “a long time ago.”
Very little seems to be accidental: One of the characters is reading Kafka and finishes with a line about crazy people never being tired. The camera then cuts to the other character now soundly asleep and I am thinking there is more to this. So I search for the lines and find out that it comes from a short story called Children on a Country Road. I haven’t read it, yet, but the synopsis tells me that it has many of the same themes.
Would someone who only sees the (touching) story enjoy it as much as I did? Regardless, I will be watching Aki Kaurismäki‘s other movies.