Having released four masterpieces consecutively, a feat that few filmmakers in the history of cinema could claim to match, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne have a great deal to teach moviemakers and audiences alike.
Their latest, L'Enfant (The Child), is a perfect example of their strengths, not just in its craft, but in its profoundly spiritual storytelling. Here are just a few of its virtues:
- It's a story about conscience, responsibility, and family.
- It betrays no preaching, politicizing, or prejudice, but sticks to artful observation, respecting the viewer's intelligence and ability to discern its themes.
- The vision of human behavior is so authentic and convincing, it often feels like a hidden-camera documentary.
- Nothing is heavy-handed, sentimental, or gratuitous—in each scene, everything belongs and contributes to what the film can mean.
- The two central characters, Bruno and Sonia, are played by supremely talented young actors—Jérémie Renier and Déborah François. But they're not recognizable celebrities for most moviegoers, which makes us concentrate on their characters without distraction.
- The camerawork is effortlessly agile and clever, and yet it does not draw attention to itself.
- It's fast-paced, intense, and wraps up with an unforgettable conclusion.
- Did I mention the nerve-wracking car chase?
Yes, L'Enfant is one of the most artful and memorable films you'll see this year. That should come as no surprise, since it won the highest honor—the Palme d'Or—at the Cannes Film Festival. What's even more amazing is that the filmmakers have won Cannes prizes for three films in a row: Rosetta (1996), Le Fils (The Son) (2004), and now this project.
The bad news is that most Americans ...1