NEW YORK -- The devastating effects of divorce upon children is explored in this Belgian film, with its country of origin being particularly appropriate because of its 60% divorce rate, the highest in Europe. First conceived as a documentary, this debut feature from Geoffrey Enthoven
betrays its origins via its naturalistic, raw style and occasionally suffers from aimlessness and poor pacing. Nonetheless, the highly effective performances, particularly from the three children in its cast, often give the film a bracing power. "Children of Love" is receiving its American premiere at New York's Film Forum.
The film chronicles the emotional and physical dislocation suffered over the course of a single weekend by the three children of Nathalie (Nathalie Stas
), a young, two-time divorcee unwilling to let their demands completely inhibit her lifestyle. Her weekends spent bar-hopping with her female friends, Nathalie parcels out her kids to their respective fathers. Twelve-year-old Michael (Michael Philpott) and 9-year-old Winnie (Winnifred Vigilante) go with their father, Olivier (Olivier Ythier
), a garage owner prone to violent temper tantrums over such issues Winnie taking too many napkins at a restaurant. Meanwhile, 5-year-old Aurelie Fauve De Loof
) spends time with her father, Renaud (Jean-Louis Leclercq), a nebbishy demolition expert who unaccountably has a much younger, sexier girlfriend with whom he is naturally preoccupied.
The film depicts in casual fashion the various interactions that take place over the apparently typical weekend, with the older children's resentments and the fathers' inability to deal with their emotional needs the primary focus. Utilizing hand-held camerawork and seemingly improvised dialogue, the filmmaker gives a documentary feel to the proceedings, and while the results are convincing, the lack of cohesiveness is sometimes off-putting. Nonetheless, there are individual moments that are emotionally resonant, and the child actors deliver amazingly convincing performances that make their characters' emotional travails haunting.cal of anime -- like a whimsical garden full of mechanical windmills -- occasionally soften the edge but are few and far between.fective in the scenes in which she talks directly to the camera, well demonstrating her ability to establish a rapport with the audience. The beautiful Oreiro, clearly enjoying her co-star's comedic antics, manages to hold her own and infuses her often-volatile character with a surprising degree of sympathy.
The episodic story line loses steam along the way, and not all of the plot elements -- such as Cleopatra's poignant reunion with an old lover -- are as well developed as they should be. But most filmgoers will be more than happy that they went along for the ride.the movie's climax.
As one can see from this synopsis, characters and story are woefully thin. Even the villains (Gerard Rudolf, Ali Al Ameri
) do little more than furrow their brows. The movie exists for its splendid vistas and the final horse race. These elements do justify "Stallion", but if the Mouse wants to pursue Imax features, much more dramatic meat will have to go into the storytelling.
Young Tamini, who has ridden horses virtually all her life, makes a credible heroine even though little is asked of her as an actress. The other actors are stranded by the weak dramatic material.
Production designer Paul Peters and costume designer Jo Katsaras
give the film a Moroccan feel. William Ross' score also is a plus, though it contains more than a hint of Maurice Jarre's musical themes from "Lawrence of Arabia".
THE YOUNG BLACK STALLION
Buena Vista Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Simon Wincer
Screenwriter: Jeanne Rosenberg
Based on the book by: Walter Farley
and Steven Farley
Producers: Fred Roos
, Frank Marshall
Executive producers: Jeanne Rosenberg
, Kathleen Kennedy
Director of photography: Reed Smoot
Production designer: Paul Peters
Music: William Ross
Costume designer: Jo Katsaras
Editors: Bud Smith, Terry Blythe
Neera: Biana G. Tamimi
Ben Ishak: Richard Romanus
Aden: Patrick Elyas
Rhamon: Gerard Rudolf
Mansoor: Ali Al Ameri
Kadir: Andries Rossouw
MPAA rating: G
Running time -- 51 minutesG-13>Emma: Dina Waters
Michael: Marc John
Megan: Aree Davis
Running time -- 88 minutes
MPAA rating: PG