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L’Enfant

Year: 2005
Production Co: Le Films de Flueve
Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne/Luc Dardenne
Producer: Jean-Pierre Dardenne/Luc Dardenne
Writer: Jean-Pierre Dardenne/Luc Dardenne
Cast: Deborah Francoise, Jeremie Renier
What is it about European directors that love losers and no hopers? At least in American movies we get the fantasy that rotten people are simply misunderstood and good on the inside. If I want to see a story about low-life bludgers, I'll drive around the lesser well to do suburbs of any capital city.

None of the above criticisms would be worth venting if only it weren't for this uninspiring tripe winning the Palme d'Or in 2005. There's absolutely no character arc, and not one instant where we can identify with or sympathise with the 'hero'. He's a post-teen hustler on the streets of an unnamed French town who's knocked his pretty girlfriend up and is still more interested in his next con than providing for his woman and child.

You don't know who you want to slap more – him for being such a Child (the point of the story, anyone?) or her for putting up with him when we can see a mile off what he's really worth.

Even when he sells the child to gangsters for an illegal underground adoption ring he doesn't show any remorse – until they track him down and kick the shit out of him. When his girl throws him out in disgust after he's retrieved the baby, all he can do is knock on the door and ask her for money because he's hungry. Then he almost drowns a teenage accomplice trying to escape a robbery. Finally he's sorry – when he's in jail.

My reaction is undoubtedly one the snootier critics and the filmmaker want people to have so they can tell us we just wouldn't understand, but I don't need to live through this kind of unsatisfying misery on a movie screen – there's enough of it outside my front door.

Also undoubtedly, it's supposed to be a tale of forgiveness and redemption, but it's so crude it's almost not there at all. Redemption is feeling sorry because you've done wrong, not because they caught you and you're in jail.

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