L'Enfant (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner08/03/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

The latest Palme D’Or winner from the Dardenne Brothers is an engaging, frequently moving drama with strong performances from its two leads.

What’s it all about?
Jeremie Renier stars as Bruno, an immature young street criminal whose henchmen are two under-age boys who help him commit crimes in between classes. When his 18 year old girlfriend Sonia (Deborah Francois) has their baby, he comes up with what he thinks is a winning money-making scheme and promptly sells the baby to black marketeers.

The Good
The Dardenne brothers specialise in films that focus on a single character (Rosetta, The Son) and follow their subjects through their daily routine, no matter how mundane. They get superb performances from their two leads and Renier somehow manages to claw back a bit of audience sympathy for Bruno, despite his morally reprehensible act.

The film explores the theme of responsibility, particularly with regard to children having children - it’s clear that the title could just as easily refer to Bruno as to the baby. François is heartbreaking in her debut role – here’s hoping the Belgian film industry takes note and we see more of her in future.

The Great
There are some impressive scenes here, particularly a lengthy chase sequence that culminates in Bruno and his cohort having to hide in freezing cold water.

The Bad
The film takes an enormous risk in making the lead character as unsympathetic as Bruno is in the first half and it almost backfires as we stop rooting for him and start wishing he’d just disappear off the screen. However, the Dardennes rescue the film with an impressive climax that is deeply moving.

Worth seeing?
It’s easy to see why this film won the Palme D’Or - this is a superbly directed, emotionally engaging film that’s worth seeing for its lead performances. Recommended.

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L'Enfant (12A)
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Content updated: 17/12/2017 15:51

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