- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: B (Region-Locked)
- Certification: 12
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Artificial Eye
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 6, 2012
- RRP: £19.99
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(All Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
With the world an increasingly smaller, truly global place, immigration is also increasingly at the forefront of discussions in most developed nations. It’s not limited to the United States, but something that has long been a hot button issue in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and France, and other European nations. As such, Finnish filmmaker Ari Kaurismäki tackles the topic head on in Le Havre, a warmhearted comedic yarn firmly rooted in the classic French cinema, yet existing simultaneously in its own parallel universe of a fairytale version of modern France, not unlike the best of Wes Anderson films in America.
Set in the tiny fishing village of Le Havre, the aging shoe shiner Marcel Marx (André Wilms) as been losing business due to everyone wearing sneakers. With an ailing wife, Arletty (Kati Outinen), there isn’t much cause for optimism in Marcel’s life, yet when the young runaway African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) comes into his life by chance, Marcel can’t help but open his heart to him and help the kid out. Offering him food and keeping him hidden from the authorities who want to deport him, the task to help Idrissa escape the clutches of the police becomes a neighborhood effort in the tight-knit community.
Defined by beautiful cinematography of the seaside village, a marvelous use of solid colors, and, of course, the subtle and quirky comedy of human error, Le Havre is a sweet and charming look at the contemporary world experience and the coming together of generations across borders and cultures; a truly 21st century comedy.
(Editor’s Note: Portions of this review were also published as our Le Havre [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review. All screen captures were taken from their respective releases.)
Had I not viewed the Criterion Collection release of Le Havre first, I would have been completely happy with this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement of the film from Artificial Eye. It is clean and detailed with a good layer of grain, nice colors and a strong sense of contrast. However, when compared to the Criterion Collection release, it is a little bit paler, tends more toward a bluish tone rather than the greenish/bluish color palette of the Criterion, and has a slightly narrower sense of contrast with somewhat lighter dark levels. It is also ever so slightly softer than Criterion’s release, which is much sharper in overall appearance. Still, this is not a bad transfer by any means, it is wholly satisfying and anyone who can’t get their hands on the Region A-locked Criterion disc shouldn’t feel like they are missing out on anything but the obviously beefed up supplements (see below).
The original digital 5.1 surround soundtrack is offered here in French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit). This being a dialogue-driven film, the mix isn’t very active, but there are subtle atmospheric sounds in the surround channels often that help boost the believability of the characters surroundings. Dialogue is clean with no hint of clipping. A French LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) mix is also provided.
The only carryover between the Artificial Eye and Criterion Collection releases are the extended Little Bob concert performances from the film (listed here as “Little Bob’s Music Videos”) and the trailer. Criterion Collection definitely wins this battle hands down.
- Interview with Actors André Wilms and Jean-Pierre Darroussin (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:21:15)
- Little Bob’s Music Videos (1.85:1; 1080i/50)
- Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24; French LPCM 2.0 Stereo)
The Definitive Word
Even if Le Havre does lean just a bit towards the saccharine, its charm is too hard to resist. The wonderful performances and beautiful imagery combine to make this Euro-comedic journey one well worth taking. Artificial Eye’s disc is a little on the barebones side, but is is a fine, solid release nonetheless.
Additional Screen Captures