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L'Enfant back to product details

So Like a Brother
written by RJones3 July 19, 2007 - 10:48 AM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Why does the central character of L'Enfant hold our interest? "The average person may find his actions stupid and unforgivable," observes one critic, "But if you look deeper you can see that this kid is desperate and scared of adulthood." Having been a social worker for over twenty years, I see nothing of the sort. Rather, I see Bruno's prototype in Camus' 1942 novel L'Etranger. Like the anti-hero Mersault, Bruno has disturbing lacunae in his emotional landscape. Mersault feels nothing at his mother's funeral. Bruno sells his first-born son on the open market. There is nothing especially malicious in Bruno's behavior. He simply cannot rise to the occasion of moral choice. Roger Ebert speculates that the central problem of L'Enfant is much like the theological problem of God's omniscience versus free will. We need to feel that the tribulations of this youthful couple, Bruno and Sonia, have meaning in the scheme of things, but there is the nagging suspicion that we are witnessing a mere working out of what the directors call the "life force." In the end we may be inclined to agree with Mersault: "I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself--so like a brother, really--I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again."

A Little Invention, Please
written by talltale August 13, 2006 - 5:30 PM PDT
1 out of 3 members found this review helpful
I am growing less convinced of the vaunted talent of filmmaking team the Dardennes brothers, particularly after seeing L'ENFANT. Again (as in "The Promise, " Rosetta," and "The Son"), the two show us the working-to-lower classes, done in what you might call a kind of Bresson-lite mode: intense close-ups of characters in situations that demand immediate attention. Terrible things are done but redemption rears its lovely head, at least enough to dangle the possibility in front of us--and the characters. But what of the dialog? It is flat in the extreme.

None of the Dardennes' people seem to have acquaintance with particularity. "The Child" offers one short scene in which a couple of characters joke and laugh a bit, which is a nice change, but generally everything seems written as if by robots (the actors do an amazing job, considering). All the Dardennes' movies grip me to an extent, due to their subject matter. But I am beginning to find a whiff of laziness in the consistently generic dialog that rarely helps us understand character--something dialog usually does. I think it is not by chance that so many of the people in the Dardennes' films seem such ciphers. Brothers, you're fine with place and situation, so take a chance with your dialog: invent!


(Average 7.17)
41 Votes
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