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Mystery Movies - L'Enfant / The Child

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Jeremie Renier, Deborah Francois
Directed and written by:
Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne
French with English subtitles
Sony Pictures Home Video 2006
96 minutes

L'Enfant / The Child won the Palme d'Or for Best Picture at the Cannes Film Festival. Go figure. This French movie about a small time street crook, Bruno (played by Jeremie Renier), who sells his girlfriend's week-old baby and then tries to make up for it by getting the baby back. This is told in the first sixty minutes of this 96 minute drama.

Directors and writers Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne spend the first third of the movie setting up the sale of the baby by showing Bruno as a small time crook and Sonia as the girlfriend who does not complain when she goes home to discover he has sublet her apartment while she was in the hospital. The next third is Bruno selling the baby and then getting it back when his girlfriend collapses and ends up in the hospital when he tells her what he has done, she denounces him to the police who simply have a talk with him in the cop car before letting him go. Lucky for him he had changed his mind and got the baby back. The final thirty minutes of the movie is Bruno trying to get Sonia back, walking around the streets, and learning some kind of life lesson.

The reason I would not give this movie an award  is Bruno and Sonia have so little energy and definition as characters it is very difficult to care about them. I am sure some critics have explained they have so little energy and emotion because they have been beaten down by the system and so on but there is no system present in L'Enfant / The Child to have beaten them down. The only real moment of interest here is when Bruno and a kid steal a woman's bag and are chased by a couple of well-meaning citizens. This sets up the ending of this movie.

I really do not get why L'Enfant / The Child won the Palme d'Or. Perhaps it is a film d'auteur or something or maybe you have to have a certain European mindset.

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