Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, I almost saw L'Enfant (The Child) this summer but somehow I ended up missing it. I knew that it was supposed to be good but I also knew that it was supposed to be super depressing. I also wasn't that big of a fan of the Dardenne brothers last film The Son.
But I was really really pleasantly surpised by this movie. I liked it a lot more than The Son and I didn't even find it all that depressing. The Son moved at a snail's pace and I was worried that this film would too. It didn't. I was pretty riveted during its 95 minutes.
The film is about two 18 or 19-year-olds who have a baby. Bruno is a small time crook who enlists 13-year-olds to help him and brags that working is for losers. He also doesn't seem to be the easiest guy to pin down. In fact, when his girlfriend, Sonia, goes to his apartment with their baby, fresh from her hospital stay, he doesn't even live there anymore. She has to bang on the door until the hostile couple inside relent and throw her phone charger to her.
Yet Bruno is damn charismatic. He and Sonia are really in love. Many of the early scenes are of the two of them running around and goofing off like little kids.
Unfortunately, Bruno is an impulsive, immature, living in a bubble kind of guy. On a whim, he decides to sell their child for adoption so he can make money for Sonia and himself.
Of course, when he tells her about it later in the day, she's not so happy. He nonchalantly tells her that he thought that it wasn't that big of a deal because they could always have another kid. Everything to him is a transaction. Selling his child is no different and much more lucrative than the digital camera he had sold earlier in the film. He ends up correcting his mistake and getting the baby back. Of course, a person can't make such a grave error and not pay the price. The rest of the film explores the consequences of his bad decision.
The Dardennes amazingly have you rooting for Bruno at times. He did a terrible thing but rather than judge him, it is fascinating to watch his character develop over the course of the film.
The film looks great. The Dardennes film in gray places, abandoned shacks, small apartments, frigid rivers, dank hallways. But it all looks strangely beautiful.
Whether or not you view this film as simply an entertainment or as an examination of society's ills, this film is really really good.
Now I want to see 1999's Rosetta which also won the Palme d'Or
Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Year of U.S. Release: 2006
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