A dispossessed young couple living in a bleak industrial Belgian town live off unemployment benefits, panhandling and petty theft. Their lives change forever when they have a baby. The father learns how one avaricious decision can affect the lives of everyone in his orbit.
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Oh Dardenne brothers. It's been too long. Far too long. Such a magnificent film. Not my favorite by them (that title belong to The Son) but still an amazing movie. The realism this film depicts and the transformation of it's lead character is astounding. As always with the Dardennes, the visuals are breathtaking. Their style is so amazing, and I'm excited that I haven't finished their filmography yet!
Just like Rosetta mirrors Mouchette, L'Enfant mirrors Pickpocket not in such an obvious way as the first but through certain elements that work as an update of Bresson's masterpiece. Apart from both leading characters being thieves, you can't ignore the uncanny resemblances between the female leads and the ending, behind bars, where hopelessness and forgiveness become one.
Nearly unbearable tension from a film that seemingly goes out of its way to highlight "naturalism." A "child in peril" film that neither feels exploitive or softened in any way. The Dardennes don't need gimmicks to pull your heart strings or keep you riveted.
i don't know what to rate this. the cinematography was gorgeous with its dark saturation and nightly tones especially when it highlighted the shack. i really admire the craft taken to develop this film. my real complaint but a huge detraction for me is that i wish i could be left with some resonance. to be honest, i'm not going to pretend i connected to the film as an entirety but pieces of it were inspiring.
The extreme naturalism is meant to pare down the story to the bare essentials, to let reality speak for itself. This academic pretension--the brothers and cinematographers confess that realism this uncompromising is hard to craft--doesn't reach the heights it shoots for. The ending is weak, the acting is sometimes contrived, as when they flirt with each other at the start, it was observant but emotionally sterile.