(2005) dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
I’d been reading about the Dardenne brothers and their films off an on for a while and certainly about this film, a story of a guy who sells his baby son on the black market and then struggles to get him back and more. They are often compared to the Italian Neo-Realists in their depictions of blue collar, working class, or less-than-working class (as in this film) Belgium. Truly, it’s not far off from any world in many ways.
It was good overall. I guess. It was involving enough and the performances were good.
It didn’t effect me the way that a film like this attempts to effect the audience. And I guess that was a part of what bothered me about it. I suppose that this film’s striving for “realism” and its emotional power therein is supposed to be compelling and powerful. It’s intended to have effect. It’s not objective. It’s manipulative as any Hollywood film in many ways, maybe a little more subtle since it doesn’t have a soundtrack blaring out directions for your emotions. But even without those obvious sign-posts, it’s clear that the ending is meant to be cathartic and heart-rending. It’s not without power. But it doesn’t wield the magic that it strives for.