Bruno and Sonia, a young Belgian couple, live on the edges of society. At the beginning of the film, we see Sonia come home from hospital to her flat, which Bruno has sublet to an uncaring couple who refuse to let her in despite the fact that she has her newborn child with her. This sets the tone for the rest of the film. Her first night as a parent is spent in a homeless shelter but while Sonia's main concern is that they are all together as a family, Bruno's is to make a quick buck. They are irresponsible (particularly Bruno) and as they take the child out, first on a scooter and then in the back of a rented car, we fear that they are incapable of looking after a child. Neither parent seems to show much affection to the child and it is this perhaps that leads Bruno to think that he can sell the baby without Sonia kicking up a fuss. This impulsive act sets off a chain of events which lead to Bruno's downfall. Much has been made of the redemptive nature of the film because of what happens at the end (which I won't reveal) but I wasn't sure whether he was genuinely sorry for what he had done or whether it could be that he acted the way he did as it was the only way out of an impossible position.
on 17 January 2009
Telling the simple tale of a young couple trying to manage a baby in the darkest and poorest corners of 21st century France, The Child is a truly amazing piece of French cinema. The drama and action so close to genuine reality that sometimes you forget you're watching a film. The acting was inspiring to say the least and the precision of the direction was incredible- most the film being shot in amazing 2 to 3 minute sequences.
Having grown up under similar circumstances, the film provided for me a fascinating journey back in time. The Child was a beautiful, quietly effective, and almost life-affirming surprise. Buy this DVD and reserve an evening to yourself- you won't be disappointed.
L'enfant has great economy and says everything it needs to with the right emphasis. Its great emotional force is very much a cumulative thing, leading up to the final moments, which really have an unexpected power. At this juncture the careful balancing of elements in the plot pays dividends, and everything has been necessary to bring the characters to the point they are now at. It's a bit like many of Bresson's films ... except that here the means of getting there is through acting, not its suppression. Both Jeremie Renier and Deborah Francois give performances that seem very real, almost unbelievably so, and they are somehow able to hold us riveted, even though the camera sticks to them like glue. There are no dead moments at all. There is something very probing about this film, as if the Dardennes were taking a series of x-rays of Bruno's soul. And we have a hunch that in spite of being remiss in important ways this boy is not beyond the pale. Equally, after seeing this film you can never see a girl pushing a buggy without thinking there's probably that depth of feeling there too. So in a sense it makes us better as people, at least for a short time after it's ended. It's a great achievement for cinema that this moral sense is given with such depth and the last few minutes can only be described as grace miraculously captured on screen.