DVD Movie Review: L’enfant (The Child) (2005)

Unengaging

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the cinema of Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne is singularly overrated? Le Silence du Lorna (2008) (which itself won the 2008 Lux Cinema Prize in the European Parliament, and was nominated for that year’s Cannes Palme d’Or) struck this reviewer as being reminiscent of writer-directors resting on their laurels and L’enfant (The Child) (2005) which did win Cannes’ most coveted prize in 2006 was really little more than a grim, grimy examination of life at the bottom of society, with performances from its leads that were singularly unengaging.

Bruno (Jérémie Renier) and Sonia (Déborah François) have few prospects, struggling to survive on benefits and the proceeds from the crimes committed by Bruno’s gang. While seemingly devoted to each other, the pressure on the pair grow even more fierce with the arrival of Sonia’s newborn son. Unable to see a way out of their poverty trap, Bruno takes the desperate decision to sell is offspring on the black market. Naturally, there are consequences to be faced…

Problem is, both performances generate hardly anything more than frustration, even anger, towards the pair, when an approach that was less obsessed with being unforgiving might have produced far more viewer empathy. In addition, and I am sorry, but it is simply dull. The People’s Choice award for 2006 went to Amaldovar’s Volver (To Return) (2006), thankfully.

100 mins. In French.

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