|Global Visions film series features "L'Enfant" Nov. 20|
The Global Vision Film Series, sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Anthropology Club, is a forum that promotes diversity at UND and within the community of Grand Forks at large through the venue of internationally acclaimed award-winning independent films. Film is a rich medium for the exploration of cultural diversity, the effects of globalization, human rights abuses, and the broad spectrum of human experiences that constitutes the nature of culture and the human condition. Every other Tuesday the Global Visions film series shows a movie at the Memorial Union in the Lecture Bowl. "L'Enfant" will be shown Nov. 20. This year, we are joined by the UND Law School’s International Human Rights Center, who will present two films under the umbrella of the Global Visions film series. All films in the series are award-winning films, recognized for their artistic scope and social impact. All films are open and free to UND students, faculty and Grand Forks community members. Several departments on the UND campus offer the films shown in the Global Visions film series as extra credit opportunities for students, who must write reviews and critiques of the issues presented in each of the outstanding films shown each semester.
Film review and synopsis by Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times staff writer
March 24, 2006
For 20-year-old Bruno, everything is fungible, negotiable, for sale. He's got the morals of a sneak thief, because that's what he is. Do you like his favorite hat? It's yours, for a price. A hustler and panhandler, living fecklessly in the moment on the streets of a Belgian industrial town, he mocks those who have regular jobs and simply does whatever comes to hand.
So when Bruno is introduced to his nine-day-old son by his young girlfriend Sonia, he does the expedient thing, the thing his whole life has pushed him toward: almost without thinking about it, he sells the baby to an adoption ring for a thick wad of cash.
But this horrific action, one that Bruno considers more or less business as usual, suddenly pushes him over a line he never knew existed. For Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's quietly devastating film "L'Enfant" (The Child) is not really about what happens to that baby. It's about what that act does to Bruno, about the brutal consequences of the sudden discovery that everything is not a commodity.
"L'Enfant" was last year's winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes; another Dardennes effort, "Rosetta," won the award in 1999. In these and the still earlier "La Promesse," the Belgian directing brothers deal with themes they have made their own: the difficulty of being moral in an amoral world and the grinding, unforgiving nature of reality for those forced by poverty to live on the margins of society. These are not easy films to experience, but they are uncompromising and unforgettable.
The exceptional thing about "L'Enfant" is how intensely dramatic the film makes the consequences of Bruno's choice. Trapped by character and circumstance, he is all of a sudden deeply in over his head thrice over: emotionally with Sonia, criminally with his cohorts and legally with society. (Olivier Gourmet, Renier's "La Promesse" costar, has a brief cameo as a policeman.)
Without Bruno realizing it, he has put powerful forces into motion that he can in no way influence or contain. And as he gains a knowledge of how costly it can be to have essential human emotions, the wonder of it all is that he never loses our sympathy or our concern.
MPAA rating: R for brief language
-- Marcia Mikulak, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, email@example.com, 77704718