L’enfant

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L’enfant
Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne :: Belgium, France :: 2004 :: 1h35

Set in a depressing industrial suburb of Liège (Belgium), young down-and-out Bruno lives in the here and now, selling anything he can get his hands on to stay afloat. When his girlfriend Sonia comes onto the scene with their little boy, Bruno finds himself having to come to terms with this little one in a cruel world. Crowned at Cannes 2005 with the Palme d’or, the Dardenne brothers – not known for their lighthearted films- sign another harsh reality with characters who act first rather than try to think or feel. We follow the protagonist so closely that you can only hear the sounds (as he does) around him without seeing the action. It forces us into the skin of the protagonist, which is not a very welcoming place to be. Their baby is present throughout a large part of the movie, but we never really see him, as neither of his parents actually speak to him. He is there, but not much more than that. The baby is so helpless, the actual embodiment of a character still to come, that our protagonists do not really know how to deal with him. They themselves have no notion of a future in their animalistic approach to their being. A position which will have to change, if not by thought preceding act, then by instinct. An impressive, and worrying portrait.

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