Writer: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Domestic Gross: $651 234
sonia is an 18-year-old girl and her boyfriend is bruno, a petty thief who makes his money selling the stuff that his gang of younger kids steal for him.
L'Enfant opens with sonia carrying her newborn baby searching the city for Bruno to show him his son. right away the pace and feel of the film is made very evident. this is not going to be a hyper-edited, stylized movie. rather it is going to be a very simply shot piece of work that will take its time with each scene that it provides for us. and i loved it for that.
one of the first moments where the above statement was made evident was right near the beginning when sonia is crossing a four lane highway to see if bruno is in his little hole in the hill shack that he sleeps in sometimes. in the scene, i'm guessing they didn't have it in the budget to actually stop or control the traffic, so sonia, baby in hand, must make her way across as any of us would. she makes it across fine, but the scene takes its time watching her watch the traffic and eventually move across the road. the moment/scene actually takes about 35 seconds. which might not seem that long, but it is. especially for an audience raised on general hollywood cinema (fans of independent cinema will not find it as 'different'). this 'taking its time' style plays out at various other points as well (standing on a bus, waiting for a call, etc...). the film is also shot mostly hand held and the grey, drab color palette adds to the verite of the story telling.
the title, L'Enfant (child) is obviously in reference to the kid that is at the center of story, but in a way it also refers to bruno and, to a lesser extent, sonia. these two are still kids themselves. the way they interact with each other, always play fighting and pinching and biting and laughing at the beginning of the film. even in one scene where the grabbing looks to be leading into more intimate kissing they still seem awkward and childish rather then sexual adults.
about the story. i can tell you, without giving too much away, that fairly early on bruno is presented with an opportunity to make lots of money. the deal involves his son and he decides (without sonia's consent) to go for it. needless to say she is not pleased, and this is where the film moves into its second act.
bruno tries to make things better, and on the surface he is able to make everything the way it was. however, in life we can't always fix everything. 'pandora's box' had already been opened and 'making it the way it was' wasn't going to work. his first decision was going to haunt him and would be the reason things progress as they do throughout the second half of the film, even as he attempts to make things right. it isn't always enough to make amends.