Jean-Pierre et Luc Dardenne, Belgique France 2005
i will start by saying that Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne did create a wonderful film with L'enfant. it's a film where the lead character is a despicable, vulgar man. he is by no means evil. they, and actor Jérémie Renier, make that clear - he is simple, genuine, and naive. but they never make you sympathize with him. never. which i appreciated a lot. and that is why this is a hard film. so you decide whether you're the kind of person who can stomach a vile character through a whole film before watching this. i really did enjoy this film. but - i am still unsure, and puzzled, by the ending. i will not spoil it for you. all i'll say is that i was sure there was one last scene left once the screen went to black. but no. the credits rolled and i sat there, along with 98% of the audience, stunned. in the dark. which is not to say that it's badly done (because god knows the brothers have shown us how amazing they can be). i will give them the benefit of the doubt. but it is puzzling. the playful fighting between Bruno and Sonia, meant to lighten up the austere mood of the piece, and, most importantly, show us how these parents are still kids, felt forced. i didn't appreciate that and i started to get intensely annoyed by them after the 2nd and 3rd time. the intent was too obvious on the part of the directors and too contrived from the actors. aside from that, the actors (all the actors, including the young thieves) created some incredibly natural performances. Jérémie Renier does a spectacular job of seemlessly navigating the innocence and self-centered nature of Bruno as if they'd always been identical. it's a flawless performance. going back to the film. it's simple theme did lack some depth (you pretty much get the "message" from the title - if there was a message, that is. i'm not sure. this was my first Dardenne film) so i'm pretty sure the goal of the film was simply to observe Bruno in his natural habitat (which is a stellar achievement to pull off while keeping your audience). although there are a couple of annoyingly flawed scenes, my experience of L'enfant was a thoroughly enjoyable one. this is an easy recommendation to fans of cinéma vérité.
* what?? Bruno was 20 years old?! Jérémie Renier never convinced me of that! on the contrary, i was under the impression he was playing a guy in his late twenties - hence the tragedy of both his situation and behaviour. his face is too old. (oops. the actor is 25 years old. lol. good luck with that.)
** sidenote - i was hungry and tired while watching this film. not the best way to be focused. also, the enjoyment of this flick was marred by the man sitting right behind me. at one point, i started hearing short shuffling/stroking sounds. and for a good 20 minutes, on and off, i was under the impression he was, you know... pleasuring himself to a fucking Palme d'or winner. or the back of my head. i was in shock so i didn't turn around. i just sat there, stunned. after a while, he stopped. both aggravated and frustrated, trying to watch this quiet flick, i told myself i'd turn around the next time. sure enough, after a short while, the sounds started again. so i turned around... only to find he was nervously shaking his legs. annoying as hell in a silent theater but nothing to berate him about.
Posted by Sam | 9:28 AM