Entries tagged with “Belge cinema”.


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.

 

 

You can hardly get a better set of premises for a film than the ones of Le tout nouveau testament or The Brand New Testament by Belge director Jaco Van Dormael. Bored being, one day, God created Bruxelles (quite a fun city actually, but this is a tourist perspective, not the one of the inhabitants and certainly not the one of God). Then he moved together with his wife and daughter (his Son JC died about 2000 years ago, as we all know) in a secluded apartment, from where he controls the world by means of a PC and an Internet connection. He is quite a nasty guy, making happen to people on Earth all the unpleasant things we know about, and an abusive father, who does not allow any TV but sports in the apartment. Until the day when his pre-teen daughter decides to take revenge and run away, not before using her Father’s computer to let all people on Earth know the date and time of their death. When arrived on Earth, she needs to find six extra-apostles chosen randomly from the population of the planet (or of Belgium better said). Why 6? Because 12 + 6 = 18 – the number of players in baseball, the preferred sport of Mother.

 

source http://www.cinenews.be/en/movies/le-tout-nouveau-testament/

source http://www.cinenews.be/en/movies/le-tout-nouveau-testament/

 

Before you get angry on me, these are only the first 5 or 10 minutes of the story. The rest is about how these wonderful premises are being used. Director Van Dormael seems to have had two models in his mind. The first is of course the eternal masterpiece of historical satire Life of Brian. Because of the subject. The second is the eternal masterpiece of sweet feel-good movies Amelie. Because of the kid-actress who is in control of all the action and all good or at least well-intentioned things that happen on screen. The result is also middle-of-the-road. Too middle-of-the-road. Because Van Dormael does not have (yet?) the daring insanity of Monty Python and because Pili Groyne is not (yet?) .

 

(video source European Movie Trailers)

 

Much of the film is spent with telling the stories of six brand new apostles, what they chose to do with the rest of their lives now that they know precisely how long it will last, and how the Brand New Testament and the team of 18 are performing better than the previous editions. As one may expect, the ending is kind of DEUS EX MACHINA.

This sweet merry Reformation on screen is fun to follow for most of the time. Just the pleasure of seeing in a new role (one of the apostles, no more or less) is enough reason to go and see it and there are other. Yet, director Jaco Van Dormael took a bet and partly lost it in starting from such bright ideas and producing just a nice film.

Cyril, ‘le gamin’ in Le gamin au velo (The Kid with a Bike) has all the reasons to be angry. His father left him, after sending him to a public dormitory school he just disappeared trying to rebuild his life. Cyril (acted as only pre-teen actors can act by Thomas Doret) refuses to acknowledge reality (which is something that so many mature people do daily) and rebels against any institution (like school) or individual (like the woman who hosts and takes care of him during weekends). Anybody who can show some understanding easily gains his trust, including a very bad guy who pushes him to do a very bad deed.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1827512/

 

This film could have turned easily into melodrama and if it does not it’s because the brothers Dardenne wrote and directed the story. They give credibility and human touch to all the characters, they judge none, not even the bad guy, not even the institutions who seem unable to understand or solve the real problems of life. The story develops naturally and when eventually things end by getting back on the right track it’s because of the belief of the characters, actors, directors, and eventually cinema viewers that life, simple gestures, the normal doing of good are the right thing to prevail. In a melodrama or in a bad drama you just want things to end well. In a good drama you believe this is the way they should end.

 

(video source MadameFigaro)

 

If Cyril is the hero, the mystery character of the film is Samantha, the woman who helps him, takes care of him, plays the role of a mother to him. As a viewer maybe I would have liked to understand more about her motivations, her personal sacrifice (at some points she has to chose between her boyfriend and the kid), why she does not have children of her own. I realize that the mystery may be intentional and that it may have been the choice of the script-writers and directors and their way of telling us ‘this is how things should be, this is how normal people should behave in unusual circumstances’ but I still miss something in understanding the character despite the wonderful acting of Cecile de France.  Yet, it’s a nice and touching film.