Cannes-winning French drama about a wild 11-year-old boy rebounding between the care of a kind, single woman (Cécile de France) and the blandishments of a streetwise older boy. Click here for movie times.
A moving, sweet and at times harrowing tale about an abandoned boy, this is also a chilling insight into the psychological roots of crime. Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, famous for their naturalistic style, won the 2011 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.
And yet it almost doesn’t feel like a film. It’s more a snapshot of life than a story carefully moulded for entertainment value. It’s also a disturbing look at how childhood pain can fester, reminding us that society’s most vulnerable are those without guidance from the right influences.
Cécile De France gives a great performance as the boy’s guardian, Samantha, a selfless yet strong-willed hairdresser who takes him into her home, as does the young Thomas Doret, who is entirely convincing in his portrayal of a little boy lost.
The raw documentary feel won’t be to everyone’s taste but the Dardennes’ lack of cinematic tricks grounds this in reality, even if there are times when it’s hard to sympathise with the behaviours of Cyril’s father – and to a degree, Samantha. Intimate, elegant touches prevail: while being tucked into bed Cyril tells Samantha her breath is warm, his way of saying she’s a comfort; in another scene the camera lingers on the resilient boy as he pedals through the night. Poignant and true.