It’s a small and dull city as many other in Belgium and Europe. It is inhabited by a mixed population, ‘local’ Europeans, more recent but well integrated Europeans (some of them are police inspectors), recent immigrants, some legal, some not. Again, as in many other cities of Belgium and Europe. This quite typical landscape of a place like many other in an Europe in change is the setting for ‘La fille inconnue’ the most recent film of brothers and and as in many of their recent movies the characters fight not only the dullness of life and problems in communication but also face moral choices and need to assume responsibility for their acts.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4630550/mediaviewer/rm788532992

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4630550/mediaviewer/rm788532992

 

The lead character is a young doctor in the community, who deeply cares about her patients. Being just a professional is not enough if you are a physician, this kind of message is quite obvious and smartly developed, as the best scenes in the film are the ones where we see doctor Jenny Davin interacting with her patients, taking care of their bodies but also of their life conditions and eventually of their souls. When faced with the guilt of not having answered a ring at the door much later than her work hours, which led to the tragic death of a young woman apparently followed by some bad people, the feelings of guilt will lead her to run her own inquiry with the main goal of discovering the identity of the victim and ensuring her family knows her fate, and that she is properly put to rest. This will let to the eventual discovery of the murderer, in a case that involves a non-negligible dose of shared responsibility of the people who surrounded her.

 

(video source Cinéart Nederland)

 

The film is very much based on the lead character, one of these people who are capable of showing compassion and giving almost everything in there personal lives in order to help their human fellows. From this point of view it resembles another film of the Dardenne brothers which I liked a lot -  The Kid with a Bike (Le gamin au velo). There are bad people in this world, but there are also good ones, and it’s worth making films about them – this seems to be the shared message of the two films. ‘La fille inconnue’ however lacks the magnetism of The Kid and although gives a remarkable performance, this is not enough to fill in for the lack of pace and the rather unconvincing ending. Brother Dardenne’s characters may seem to good to be true, and they do not owe anybody an explanation for being so – that’s fine, but in the absence of a solid motivation there need to be more dramatic substance in the story. This is exactly what is missing in this film, just seeing good people in action in a difficult community may be enough for a documentary, but not for a full feature.