Igor and his father, Roger, are making a decent living renting apartments to illegal immigrants and sometimes working them illegally (among other scams). But when the building inspector ... See full summary »
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Sandra, a young Belgian mother, discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can 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
Survival, desperation and parenthood on the streets of Seraing
L'Infant is the deserving winner of several awards, including the prestigious Palm d'Or at Cannes. The directors manage to achieve an engrossing simple, and tragic story which weaves several coming-of-age themes together without sacrificing a second of realism. Although the two leads are equally important to the development of the film, the action follows Bruno (Jeremie Reinier), a troubled, unstable, young man who lives at the fringes of society stealing and fencing with the help of a couple of young kids. Before the action of the film begins, Sonja (Deborah Francois), a young working class girl trying to make a life for herself, has fallen in love with Bruno and had a son with him. In the first few minutes of the film, she is carrying the infant through the streets of Seraing searching for Bruno, whose only method of contact, his cell phone, has run out of credit. When the couple are united, Bruno seems cheery and hopeful, but it is his love for Sonja that we are seeing here, and this love, though genuine, is the immature love of a man whose emotional growth has been stunted by the choices he habitually makes. Throughout most of the rest of the film, we are privy to several examples of these choices, and Bruno is placed in a position where he must either lose all hope and self-respect or commit himself to recognize his own responsibility (i.e. grow up), while the immediate prospects of doing either are unpleasant.
The film explores a number of important issues very sympathetically and yet with merciless realism. The film does not even distract its audience with a soundtrack. What is being said in the film is too important to waste on mere entertainment. L'infant is politically libertarian - emphasizing the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions. Attached to this painfully examined central theme are more familiar and obvious issues of adulthood, morality, love, romance, fatherhood, and survival.
The directing and script are flawless. The acting is superb - especially the two leads. You will instantly fall in love with Sonja, and as despicable as he is, it is hard to avoid feeling the same for Jeremie. And these two young actors accomplish this without a soundtrack, excessive editing, or a lot of fancy camera work. Bravo! As art, L'Infant is as straight-forward as you can get. It is unpretentiously filmed in a documentary style, with the camera sometimes getting uncomfortably close to the action in order to highlight the emotional impact of the performances. The camera work is subtle and excellent, but, unlike some of the reviewers, I was aware of the presence of the camera at times. Considering the claustrophobic interior sets, the lack of any form of distraction from the central plot and the hyper-realism of the film, it would be pretty difficult to avoid this completely.
As many others have said, this is an art film. However, its pace is consistent enough and its cinematography subtle enough to make it accessible for standard film audiences. This might be a good way to introduce an open-minded friend to true independent (as opposed to "Indie") and non-Hollywood film.
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