40 international directors were asked to make a short film using the original Cinematographe invented by the Lumière Brothers, working under conditions similar to those of 1895. There were ... See full summary »
A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn't choose, anything is possible.
Pauline is a 'little girl of 66 years old'. She is intellectually disabled and been cared after by her sister Martha. When Martha dies, her two younger sisters, Paulette and Cecile have to ... See full summary »
Dora van der Groen,
A week before its delivery, a baby warns his pregnant mother he doesn't want to come out in this world and prefers to die instead. She tries then to convince him otherwise by telling him ... See full summary »
Georges has Down's syndrome, living at a mental-institution. Harry is a busy businessman, giving lectures for young aspiring salesmen. He is successful in his business life, but his social life is a disaster since his wife left him and took their two children with her. This weekend his children came by train to meet him, but Harry, working as always, forgot to pick them up. Neither his wife nor his children want to see him again and he is driving around on the country roads, anguished and angry. He almost runs over Georges, on the run from the institution since everybody else went home with their parents except him, whose mother is dead. Harry tries to get rid of Georges but he won't leave his new friend. Eventually a special friendship forms between the two of them, a friendship which makes Harry a different person. Written by
[fed up with Georges]
Get out! Go find some other sucker to help you out!
[leaves Georges in the rain. He eventually comes back]
Put this on, you'll get soaked and chill.
[puts his coat on Georges]
You like me!
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With 'Le Huitième Jour' director Jaco van Dormael tells us a moving tale of two complete strangers (who couldn't be more different from each other), whose paths cross as they travel opposite directions. After this odd encounter, together, both take turns heading towards each other's destinations but with heartbreaking results. However, this journey allows them to find something they didn't know they were looking for.
Let's get the flaws out of the way: Certain scenes may feel a little dramatic but it still remains within the tone of the film, never looking out of place. Even though Harry and Georges are the primary focus of the film, some of the important supporting characters are poorly developed, especially Georges's hating sister and Miou Miou's Julie.
But those minuses aside, is 'Le Huitième Jour' a road movie (the landscapes are dazzling)? Is it a study of two characters? Is it a 'buddy' movie (certainly not the typical Hollywood kind)? Is it a dramedy?
It's poetry. The film, in a way, moves from one genre to another but it flows beautifully. The balance in humour, and intensity is first rate. The jokes work well and the timing is just right. I did find the ending to be a tad too dramatic.
What Georges shows the viewer is that, while people desire similarities, it is our differences that make us unique. Yet, that is the very reason why Georges is rejected by the 'real world'. What Harry further shows is that none of these supposed similarities that people look for in each other matters because acceptance, respect, being open to possibilities and being true to oneself are what will bring the greater joy.
'Le Huitième Jour' is stunningly filmed and wonderfully acted. Pascal Duquenne and Daniel Auteuil are superb. Duquenne delivers a very natural performance and Auteuil is terrifically restrained. They are well supported by Isabelle Sadoyan, Michele Maes and the two actors who play Harry's daughter.
'Le Huitième Jour' engages you right from the start. It's funny, intense, enlightening and reaches straight for the heart.
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