L'Enfant Review

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A couple of derelict youths have a child, and the father arranges for it to be illegally adopted. In order to return to her good graces, he embarks on a journey to retrieve l'enfant.


Rarely has the Dardenne brothers’ debt to Robert Bresson been so pronounced as in this stark study of desperate greed. It’s not just the spartan shooting style that recalls such Bressons as L’Argent, but also the sense that no matter how low humanity stoops, there’s always the prospect of redemption.

Such is the baseness of Belgian 20 year-old Jérémie Renier’s behaviour, as he sells his new baby into adoption and then tries to get back into teenage girlfriend Déborah François’ good graces, that their touching reunion seems inconceivable. Yet, by recording events with such detailed dispassion, the Dardennes avoid undue melodramatics. Consequently, this Palme d’Or-winning confirmation of the world’s cruelty remains unflinchingly powerful.

The Dardennes thoroughly merited their second Palme d'Or at Cannes for this unflinching study of bestial greed and humanity's limitless capacity for salvation.