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aka - Enfant, L'
Belgium/France 2005
Directed by
Jean-Pierre Dardenne / Luc Dardenne
92 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Child

Bruno (Jérémie Renier) is 20 years old, his girlfriend Sonia (Deborah François) is 18. She's just come back from giving birth to their son, Jimmy, to discover that Bruno has sublet their apartment and is living in a culvert.  When Bruno learns that there's money to be made selling Jimmy for adoption, he thoughtlessly goes for the cash but it is a decision he soon regrets.

L'Enfant is an economical and potent portrait of feckless youth on the margins shot in the social realist style.  The film is essentially Bruno’s story and Jérémie Renier (who had starred in the brothers' 1999 breakout film La Promesse) is compelling in the lead, playing a charismatically good-looking but selfishly weak young man who cares for nothing other than his own well-being, begging and stealing to get money which he just as carelessly squanders because in his opinion only jerks work for a living.  However when he sells his son (they can always have a child he reasons to Sonia) he goes too far.

Although Deborah François is a little too pretty in looks and Sonia too demurely compliant in character, she gives the story the twist that gives it hope when she rebels against Bruno’s self-centredness.  It’s more instinctual than moral but it triggers a series of events that brings even Bruno to examine his ways.  The Dardennes don’t give us a Hollywood ending but their film is strong enough that we hope that Bruno has finally learned his lesson and that Sonia will hold up some measure of light in a future they will make together.

DVD Extras: Two interviews with the Dardennes, one by Margaret Pomeranz; Interview with cinematographers Alain Marcoen and Benoit Drevaux and original theatrical trailer


Available from: Madman




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