starring Jérémie Renier, Déborah François, Jérémie Segard, Fabrizio Rongione
written and directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne
THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON
directed by Jeff Feuerzeig
by Walter Chaw I believe the title is meant to indicate the arrested protagonist more than it is the baby he tries to sell on the black market, thus The Child (L'Enfant)--another of Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's mild, allegorical subversions of Robert Bresson and incrementally more violent subversions of the French New Wave--takes on Pickpocket via Breathless. In so doing, it conjures up this odd chimera of a stylistically backward-looking, formalist deconstruction, the first film of the Brothers (after La Promesse, Rosetta, and The Son) to feel this much like a knowing satire, to come so perilously close to being smug and post-modern that its style begins to become confused with its message. It could be a product of overfamiliarity with a fine and distinct sensibility (the last thing this kind of innovation can afford is to be outrun and second-guessed), or it could be that the Brothers are getting either bored of their shtick or fond of their reputation.