In this gripping Cannes Grand Prix winner from Belgium’s Dardenne brothers, a wild 11-year-old boy rebounds between the judicious care of a kind, single woman (Cécile de France) and the blandishments of a streetwise older boy.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, already two-time Cannes victors with Rosetta and L’Enfant, this year shared the Festival’s Grand Prix for this gripping emotional drama. Filming for once in summer, and evincing unusual hopefulness, they bring their inimitable tough love to the story of a wild 11-year-old boy rebounding between the judicious care of a kind, single woman (Cécile de France) and the blandishments of a streetwise older boy. — BG
“The opening has the visceral charge of a great chase scene as 11-year-old Cyril (Thomas Doret) makes a mad dash to evade his counselors and flee the children’s home where he has been placed temporarily. In his first screen role, the remarkable Doret bristles with anger and flailing determination; this wiry, ginger-haired kid conveys a desperation that is shattering…
What follows is not a conventional chronicle of a troubled child scarred by abandonment issues, learning to experience the unfamiliar sensations of love and trust, though to some degree, that happens. Instead, it’s a robustly plotted and highly suspenseful battle to save uncontrollable Cyril from self-destruction…
Without ever articulating it in words, the film over and over again illustrates with wrenching effectiveness every child’s primal hunger for parental love and acceptance….
There isn’t a single unearned emotion… Kindness is evident in even the most hurt or exasperated moments of de France’s lovely performance. But then, kindness couched in unblinking social realism is an intrinsic part of how these supremely gifted filmmakers view the world.” — David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter