L'Enfant

Jean-Pierre Dardenne, who made the horrifying and moving Le Fils (The Son), follows up on his theme of filiation with L’Enfant, a much better-realized film. Sonia (Déborah François) wanders about with her newborn looking for her boyfriend, Bruno (Jérémie Renier). Sadly, Bruno is a small-time Fagin whose tiny band of boy-thieves meets in an abandoned shack by the water. Ah, the French: so pretty and so lawless, at least if their cinema is to be believed. The story then follows, in beautiful, hand-held photography, Bruno and Sonia’s struggles. Mostly, Sonia struggles happily with new motherhood, and Bruno does stuff like robbing old ladies and engaging in human trafficking. L’Enfant, though breaking no new ground, is fast and attractive enough to hold one’s attention, and benefits from a gut-grabbing performance by the pockmarked Renier. It’s sort of a naturalized Breathless with less pretension and more blondes.

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