Opening 17 Nov 2005
Writing credits: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Principal actors: Jérémie Renier, Déborah François, Jérémie Segard, Fabrizio Rongione, Olivier Gourmet
In a small industrial city in Belgium, 20-year-old Bruno (Jérémie Renier) lives a hand-to-mouth existence, never stooping to legal employment. When his girlfriend Sonia (Déborah François) is released from the hospital with newborn Jimmy, he realizes this could be a money-making opportunity and, while Sonia stands in the long line at the welfare office, he sells the baby to an illegal adoption outfit. Upon hearing this news, Sonia has a breakdown and must be hospitalized. At this point Bruno realizes what harm he has caused and strives to get Jimmy back.
L'Enfant, which won the Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year, was produced by the Dardennes brothers, who specialize in portraits of working-class Belgians. Bruno and Sonia are clearly products of this milieu with its unemployment, broken families and triste conditions. The story of two almost-children who themselves produce a child is told in a brisk, matter-of-fact style that never stoops to sentimentality or pretends to moralize. It is a film of our time. (Thelma Freedman)