Finland, France, Germany


Marcel Marx, a former author and a well-known Bohemian, has retreated into a voluntary exile in the port city of Le Havre, where he feels he has reached a closer rapport with the people serving them in the occupation of the honourable, but not too profitable, of a shoe-shiner. He has buried his dreams of a literary breakthrough and lives happily within the triangle of his favourite bar, his work, and his wife Arletty, when fate suddenly throws in his path an underage immigrant refugee from the darkest Africa. As Arletty at the same time gets seriously ill and Is bedridden, Marcel once more has to rise against the cold wall of human indifference with his only weapon of innate optimism and the unwavering solidarity of the people of his quartier, but against him stands the whole blind machinery of the Western constitutionally governed state, this time represented by the dragnet of the police, moment by moment drawing closer around the refugee boy. It's time for Marcel to polish his shoes and reveal his teeth.

Director's Statement

The European cinema has not much addressed the continuously worsening financial, political, and above all, moral crisis that has led to the ever-unsolved question of refugees; refugees trying to find their way into the EU from abroad, and their irregular, often substandard treatment. I have no answer to this problem, but I still wanted to deal with the matter in this anyhow unrealistic film.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki

Written by: Aki Kaurismäki

Produced by: Reinhard Brundig, Aki Kaurismäki, Fabienne Vonier

Cinematography: Timo Salminen

Editing: Timo Linnasalo

Production Design: Wouter Zoon

Cast: André Wilms, Kati Outinen, Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Blondin Miguel

Nominations and Awards

  • European Film 2011
  • European Director 2011
  • European Actor 2011
  • European Screenwriter 2011
  • Feature Film Selection 2011