Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Friday, November 24, 2006

L'Enfant (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2005)

The brother team of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne built upon their former successes (such as one previous Palme d'Or for The Son, which I still need to see) with another grand prize winner at the Cannes film festival, L'Enfant. Bruno is a young thug who presumably makes a very meager amount of money stealing and then selling items, as well as doing things like renting out his girlfriend Sonia's apartment for a few days. In fact, Sonia returns from the hospital after giving birth to their son Jimmy to find her apartment occupied by total strangers. Things just get worse for Sonia, who goes with Bruno to a homeless shelter, is left by him, and eventually is betrayed in a very shocking way - Bruno decides to sell Jimmy to an agency that does under the table adoptions. Sonia faints, goes to the hospital, and tells the police what Bruno has done; he, meanwhile, gets his son back, but gets into even greater trouble trying to make some more money so he (and his girlfriend and son, with whom he is not allowed to see) doesn't starve. The movie is Bruno's journey from childhood (it is pretty clear that he, and not Jimmy, is the child of the title) into real maturity, and understanding what it means to be a man, a lover, and a father. Whether or not by the end of the film he has completed, or even started, that journey is highly debatable, but the journey is an emotionally complex, wrenching one.

Jeremie Renier as Bruno is really stunning - the scene where Bruno nonchalantly tells Sonia what he's done, and does not understand her reaction (pointing to the money he got, he says, "This is for us. I thought we could just have another one"), is worth the price of admission alone. Deborah Francois as Sonia is very good as well - the Dardenne brothers do a very good job of showing how Sonia is not more than a child herself, as with her constant wrestling and play-fighting with Bruno. Even though most of the movie is sparse, with little dialogue and few visible emotions, there are also moments of almost perverse humor, like when Bruno pushes an empty baby carriage around the city. Comparable to Bresson in simultaneous emotional depth and shallowness, L'Enfant is a beautiful little slice of life, and although the Dardenne brothers are incredibly talented at letting this story come to a completely natural conclusion, it was too distant for me to care a great amount.


RIYL: Robert Bresson

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