Filmmakers who bother to cast a dog as a character... do they always make better films?
Probably not, but dogs feature in Finnish moviemaker Aki Kaurismaki's films The Man Without a Past (2003) and Le Havre (2011), and I love both films, which are about people being decent, even loving, in grim circumstances.
And his women characters are real people too. Actress Kati Outinen (above in Man Without a Past) is in both films.
They fit in the category I made up to describe a kind of art I like, the OK, We're Fucked; Now What? category, when the answer is somehow, even slightly, positive.
Kaurismaki even says as much, calling Le Havre a semi-realistic fairy tale: "The more pessimistic I feel, the more optimistic I need to make my movies. That’s my refuge."
The movies are beautiful too: Karuismaki sets scenes up like paintings. I highly recommend both films.
SYNOPSIS from the film's website:
In this warmhearted portrait of the French harbor city that gives the film its name, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (André Wilms), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoeshiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville and Marcel Carné, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight.
dir. Aki Kaurismäki / France/Finland 2011 / Color / 35mm / 1.85 / Dolby SRD / 93 min / in French with English subtitles