Sokol and Lorna, two Albanian emigrants in Belgium, dream of leaving their dreary jobs to set up a snack bar. They need money, and a permanent resident status. Claudy is a junkie - he needs... See full summary »
Roger uses his son Igor to ruthlessly traffic and exploit illegal aliens. When one of the aliens is killed, Igor is guilt-ridden and wants to care for the dead man's family against his father's orders.
Liège, Belgium. Sandra is a factory worker who discovers that her workmates have opted for a EUR1,000 bonus in exchange for her dismissal. She has only a weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses in order to keep her job.
Young, unmarried couple Sonia and Bruno have just had a son, who Sonia names Jimmy. Bruno, who did not visit her while she was in the hospital, scoffs at the notion of what he considers traditional employment, instead eking out a living primarily on petty crimes committed with his fourteen year old associate, Steve. He even sublets Sonia's small apartment while she is in the hospital, he sleeping either in the homeless shelter or squatting in what he calls his "shack" down by the river. On the day after Sonia gets out of the hospital, she allows Bruno to take Jimmy for a walk while she stands in line for her benefits. On that walk, Bruno makes the unilateral decision to sell Jimmy to a black market adoption agency. Upon finding out what Bruno has done, Sonia has a breakdown and falls unconscious. Fearing that Sonia will turn him over to the police when she regains consciousness, Bruno tries to get Jimmy back while he leaves Sonia in the hospital in her unconscious state. But Bruno ... Written by
Earlier this evening, I was attending the premiere of "L'Enfant" in Belgian theaters.
"L'Enfant" shows us a socio-drama, with a story located in the southern region of Belgium, in a city called Seraing, where most movies of the Dardenne brothers are situated.
I will not go into any plot summaries, but let me make a comparison with other directors, so you might get a clue if you'd like to watch this movie or not. Socio-drama is a genre in film not only made in Belgium. Many great directors have made solid socio-drama's: Aki Kaurismaki, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and many others.
Where you can find a twist of humor in Kaurismaki's movies, you'll have a hard time finding it in "L'Enfant". A high level of realism avoids any dramatization of the struggle-for-life the protagonists experience. This makes it for the viewer not easier to swallow. The absence of a soundtrack even increases this effect.
This movie has many strong points, and although I haven't seen many of the other films who were competing with "L'Enfant" at the Cannes film festival 2005, I think this film has fairly won the Palme d'Or because it scores very high on the essential aspects of film-making: acting, camera-work (see comment by Toon Creemers) and script (dialogues).
I highly recommend this movie, but don't expect to be visually entertained the way we are used to by big budget films from Hollywood. Movies like these don't need a lot of dialogue, fancy one-liners or historical quotes - the picture says it all, in a simple but effective way.
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