L'enfant

  • 2005
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's sixth fiction feature — and the second to win the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or — continues their exploration of the complex relationships between parents and their children as they struggle to get by on industrialized society's fringes. This time the father, Bruno (Dardenne regular Jeremie Renier),...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's sixth fiction feature — and the second to win the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or — continues their exploration of the complex relationships between parents and their children as they struggle to get by on industrialized society's fringes. This time the father, Bruno (Dardenne regular Jeremie Renier), a panhandler and petty thief who plies his trade around the Belgian industrial city of Seraing, is in many ways still a child himself. Work, he maintains, is for suckers; there's always money to be found if you don't let your conscience get in the way. Bruno isn't above playing Fagin to a 14-year-old pickpocket (Jeremie Segard) or subletting his girlfriend Sonia's (Deborah Francois) apartment to a pair of strangers while she's in the hospital giving birth to their son, Jimmy. Bruno's cruelest betrayal comes shortly after he and Sonia register Jimmy at the city hall, when Bruno takes his 9-day-old infant out for a walk and sells him to a black-market adoption ring. When he returns to the riverside shack where he's been living with Sonia, Bruno coldly announces that she shouldn't worry that he's sold their baby — they can always have another. His only qualms about the whole transaction come after Sonia collapses from the shock and is rushed to the hospital. Terrified that she'll tell the police what he did, Bruno scrambles to get the infant back. But the cost of the transaction proves enormous, not only in terms of what Bruno must pay the baby traffickers (who demand full compensation for their potential profit), but in the toll it takes on his relationship with Sonia. With his incessant horseplay, impulsive squandering of whatever cash he manages to scrape together, and refusal to take responsibility for his actions, Bruno has yet to enter the world of adulthood, never mind fatherhood. But while Sonia's judgment seems equally immature — she thinks nothing of hitching a ride on the back of a motor scooter with her newborn son perched precariously on her lap — crisis awakens her to motherhood. Throughout this raw, often brilliant drama, the Dardennes refuse to judge these deeply flawed characters. They instead maintain a moral objectivity that ultimately leaves room for the possibility of redemption, no matter how dire the sins committed.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's sixth fiction feature — and the second to win the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or — continues their exploration of the complex relationships between parents and their children as they struggle to… (more)

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