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THE CHILD (L Enfant)


Starring: Jérémie Renier, Déborah François, Jérémie Segard
Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Rating: PG
Year Made: 2005








Languages: French
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 Letterbox
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Comstar Entertainment




The Child is the new social realist drama from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who won the Palme d'Or in 1999 with Rosetta. It is the story of Bruno (Jérémie Renier), a 20-year-old petty thief whose 18-year-old girlfriend, Sonia (Déborah François), has just had a baby, Jimmy. She adores him, but Bruno isn't so sure - and one of Bruno's fence contacts tells him there is big money to be made in selling babies for black-market adoption. One of the most suspect claims I've been hearing at Cannes on behalf of some movies is that they are about "redemption", which often turns out to be hardly more than a shallow style gimmick. But The Child really is about redemption, and the film treats this subject with the moral seriousness it deserves. Bruno's fatherhood is contrasted with his quasi-paternal responsibility to the Artful Dodger boy-thieves he controls, which brings the movie to a crunch as Bruno faces the Dostoevskian responsibility of giving himself up to the police. A moving and satisfying film..


L’Enfant is a very simple film, so simple that it's emotional power and societal statements are resonantly clear and undeniable. And yet it’s the most complex film, so ambitiously detailed and precise in its intentions that if it were to fail it would still have more to say than anything released by major studios today.

The masterfully inspired structure of the film, using both its ingenious screenplay construction as well as clever cinematographic techniques, relays purely the information we need to know when we need to know it giving the film an extremely realistic "feel”. This realism is accomplished in many ways and is in no way trite or pretentious. The film's realism is heightened further by its homage-to-New-Wave home camera style cinematography, which at times is gritty and blunt but always honest and exact. Not only do we believe everything that is happening making the audience feel and live vicariously through the main characters.

For some the film is going to be too bleak or the ending is going to be unsatisfactory. There's no twist ending and the brothers don't partake in any moral posturing. Bruno's life as a small time crook is neither vilified nor romanticized. He's presented as just another human being in a cold harsh world in which people suffer but also find love and comfort in the strangest of ways.

The Child is most effective as a rite-of-passage tale; this is evident when Bruno repeatedly pushes Jimmy's empty carriage around town, and later when he is forced to push a motorcycle. Bruno's cross to bear is that he carries the burden and reluctant obligation not just of parenthood, but adulthood.


The DVD comes with a choice of audio tracks – a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. Either of these will suffice for the minimalist and realist soundtrack without any music score, both having clarity and a tone that is appropriate and necessary for the film. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix does not demonstrate any wider use of the sound design, and in fact restricts it to practically one mono centre channel for the majority of the film.

The film can occasionally look dark and murky, but this is entirely how it should appear, and it’s like that for a reason. The very tone, grayness, use of color and grain of the The Child are all carefully balanced to convey much more than is said by the characters about their lives.


No extra features are included in this Code 3 DVD.



Review by Lokman B S



Alternative Opinion:

The movie review by our columnist,

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. Horror Theater Series 2

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. As It Is In Heaven

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This review is made possible with the kind support from Comstar


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