- 1h 39m
A joinery instructor at a rehab center refuses to take a new teen as his apprentice, but then begins to follow the boy through the hallways and streets.A joinery instructor at a rehab center refuses to take a new teen as his apprentice, but then begins to follow the boy through the hallways and streets.A joinery instructor at a rehab center refuses to take a new teen as his apprentice, but then begins to follow the boy through the hallways and streets.
Olivier - meticulous, careful, even-handed - teaches carpentry at a vocational school in Liège. He's asked to take on Francis, 16, a new student. He declines the request then begins to watch, even spy on, the new lad. Olivier knows something. Later that day, he's visited by Magali, his ex-wife, who tells him that she's remarrying and is pregnant. Olivier seems to follow instinctive responses: "why today?" he demands of Magali; he continues to follow Francis; he changes his mind about enrolling the youth. What's the history between the two? After that becomes clear, what is it Olivier will do? Is this precise and measured carpenter in control of himself? —<email@example.com>
Intelligent, humane but hard to watch
How do you make a film to capture the mindset of a stalker; or of an uncertain individual, sizing up an unknown enemy? The Dardenne brothers' solution in this movie is to shoot almost the entire film over the shoulder of its principal protagonist, giving the audience the same view, the same sideways glances and stolen observations, as the character. It's effective, but it doesn't make this the easiest movie to watch: at times it feels that everything you want to see is deliberately left out of shot. A film about a pair of fairly non-communicative people, it also contains almost no expository dialogue, so we are left to guess what each of them are feeling from their actions: in fact, as well as being terse or even silent, the characters are arguably people who don't really know what to feel any more. The film is thus an effective look at the bleakness of life in extreme circumstances, but again, this doesn't make it easy to relate to. The unusual method does bring some dividends: at first, it one thinks this will be a movie about a pervert, a mistake that owes everything to clichéd thinking and nothing to surprising honesty the directors and cast bring to this movie. In a sense, it's a film about the possibility of revenge, but with a more awkward, truthful and ultimately humane take on this notion than any you are likely to find in Hollywood. It's an interesting film, therefore, and deserving of praise; but not particularly fun to see.
- Nov 12, 2008
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