MovieChat Forums > The Child (2005) Discussion > Disappointing (contains spoilers)

Disappointing (contains spoilers)


With vague memories of having enjoyed La Promesse, I went to see this film with pretty good expectations, but was very disappointed. Though I admire the verite storytelling style (especially in this day and age), I am completely perplexed by the critical raves L'Enfant has been getting, as I was utterly bored and unmoved by this tale of repulsive, borderline retarded, white trash. Clearly, the directors intended for us to empathize with the couple, but I only found myself glad that the lead character was behind bars as he wept at the end. The only time my interest picked up was during the chase/hiding sequence. I also couldn't help worrying about the welfare of the infant actor(s) as the actress held it while screaming and pounding the door, as the actors smoked cigarettes while holding it, etc. Maybe someone has to do it but I sure wouldn't let my baby be used like that.

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I also worry about the child actor being used in a sequence that should have required a stuntman, i.e. riding on the back of a scooter without a helmet, being chased by a car.
I too found the film boring, unmoving, predictable, with the 2 main characters almost completely unlikeable. The other main problem for me was it was totally unbelievable. For example, even when the baby has been kidnapped, he never cries, in fact he never cries in the whole film. There were loads of other issues which stretched credulity to breaking point.

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a shame. have you seen 'rosetta' or 'le fils?' its a perfect counterpoint. dardennes are two of the most important filmmakers today i dont know what it is, their movies just do it for me. they feel honest, i guess. even if im not riveted by action all the way through.

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Maybe they are trying to be honest, to me the film is just so unbelievable it fails. For example the police reaction is ridiculous, they would at least have tried to phone Bruno's mum to see if she would verify his story. Her reaction to him having a child is just so false. The baby never once cries for her mother to feed her as a newborn baby would. Sonia would have screamed at Bruno over the phone when he kidnaps Jimmy. Her reaction to the empty pram is also not believable. Would a new mother threaten the life of her baby by biting the driver's hand when they are on the motorway with the baby in the back? Bruno would not have told the schoolboy how much he was getting for the stolen goods, the list just goes on and on.
I also never believed the baby was in the pram when you couldn't see it, a better director would have put in a sound to occasionally remind you of his presence.
I can see that the filmmakers were trying to be true to life, but the details spoil it for me. I won't be bothering with their other films as I suspect they will be more of the same.

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[deleted]

Damn, I could have been home watching reruns of Law & Order Special Victims instead of spending $10 on this.

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they would at least have tried to phone Bruno's mum to see if she would verify his story

perhaps they rang her while she was out.

Her reaction to him having a child is just so false

some people are numb to their children. bruno's mother is probably used to having him come to her for help, whether financially, or when he had run-ins with the police.

The baby never once cries for her mother to feed her as a newborn baby would

did you watch it with the sound off? the baby cries at several points in the film

Her reaction to the empty pram is also not believable

it's not believable that she would faint?

Would a new mother threaten the life of her baby by biting the driver's hand when they are on the motorway with the baby in the back?

she's obviously not the most mature or responsible woman. the playing around between sonia and bruno is meant to evoke their childishness.

Bruno would not have told the schoolboy how much he was getting for the stolen goods

why not? it was a kid that he had been working with for a while it seemed, and the kid's cut of the money was small anyhow.

I also never believed the baby was in the pram when you couldn't see it, a better director would have put in a sound to occasionally remind you of his presence

the dardenne's don't put unnecessary details in their films. it's called realism. sometimes prams don't have noises coming from them.

I agree that you probably shouldn't bother with more of their films, the beauty of their work is apparently beyond your grasp.

Le français est la langue du cinéma

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absolutely superb film. obviously if you dont like you dont like... but your reasons seem to be very fickle.

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Revolutionow, you're dissection of his comment is a veritable work of art. Thank you for saving me the effort.

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(Except it probably wasn't necessary to insult the poster or use sarcasm.)

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"some people are numb to their children"

This is true, however people are rarely numb to their children's children. As a mother she must feel some empathy towards her grandchild, ESPECIALLY if she doesn't trust her son to take care of him.

" Her reaction to the empty pram is also not believable


it's not believable that she would faint? "

I believe the poster was referring to the moment of seeing the empty pram, not after finding out Bruno sold the baby. If I saw my child was not in its pram and wasn't with its father, I would've freaked out a little sooner than she did, certainly before I could walk over to the father and calmly ask him where the baby was.
The fainting was of course believable.

"she's obviously not the most mature or responsible woman. the playing around between sonia and bruno is meant to evoke their childishness. "

Yes, but the poster was arguing that it wasn't REALISTIC. The character obviously wasn't the most responsible, but no mother would be so thoughtless as to endanger the life of her child unless she was mentally ill, which Sonia obviously wasn't.

"the dardenne's don't put unnecessary details in their films. it's called realism. sometimes prams don't have noises coming from them"

There is real life realism and there is film realism. They are two very different things which rarely overlap. In real life prams don't have noises coming from them, but if they don't in a film, something feels as though it's missing because when you think of a pram you think of a crying baby inside it. It's not so much an "unnecessary detail" as a hiccup by the editors.

Of course, all of this is my opinion. You are entitled to yours, and I am entitled to trying to convince you to change it. :P

"I agree that you probably shouldn't bother with more of their films, the beauty of their work is apparently beyond your grasp."

However, you'll convince no one with that attitude.

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Did you show up late? The child cries hysterically for the first five minutes of the film, at least.

http://afilmodyssey.blogspot.com/

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Ummm are you positive they used the 'child actor' during the mpoed scene? I initially thought the same thing but never once was his hand or face shown - so I am almost positive a doll would have been in place.



664 - Neighbor of the Beast...

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I was referring to the chase towards the end, with the boy who stole for Bruno. Definitely a child actor and not a doll!

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[deleted]

yeah he cries, didn't you pay attention!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?

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Most likely during the scenes where there was smoking, screaming, etc, they used a life-like doll (rather than an actual infant) as many US films do.

* Bollywood pyar hai *
Indigo

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"I also couldn't help worrying about the welfare of the infant actor(s) as the actress held it while screaming and pounding the door, as the actors smoked cigarettes while holding it, etc. Maybe someone has to do it but I sure wouldn't let my baby be used like that."

According the trivia-section the baby is played by 21 different ones....

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I read through this discussion before I saw this film here in Oklahoma City. Now I wondered what film some of those who posted here had watched.

To begin with, the very 1st scene with the baby in it, he is crying . . .

When Sonia is able to find someone to give her a ride, the early scene on the back of the scooter, it was likely the bundle was NOT the actual baby . . . it wasn't shown and wasn't required for the scene to work. (Talk about finding something to worry about!?!) I'm sure Sonia would've preferred to ride in an automobile but what is going on here is a young mother doing the best she can.

These are young parents who are not much more that children themselves. Later, the playful biting of her mate’s hand didn't look all that dangerous but, these kids were NOT thinking about that. Even so, I didn't see ANYTHING that suggested any of the 21 babies were ever in any real danger.

Bruno, ever looking for an easy profit, considers selling the baby AFTER it is suggested by one of his 'contacts', it was just a commodity to him.

This was the only time I had a question about this film; where was he while Sonia was pregnant? (Did she "go away" for most of the time?) I caught the scene when she made him feel her flat belly so he knew what it was like before the birth. I figured he might've bonded with the idea of being a father if not with the actual infant.

The comments about the police, of course they didn’t believe him but since the infant was returned they knew trying to make a case was a waste of time.

I thought the film was a great character study and well worth seeing.

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I saw the film this afternoon with english subtitles and I think it's a wonderful view of "how the other half live" or "there but for the grace of God go my children".
They were not bad people or bad parents but very young, with few resources and few expectations.
Pointing out riding on the back of a scooter with a baby - well if you've ever been to Naples (Italy not Florida)you will see all sorts of passengers on vespas. It's called necessity and a family of three and the dog were a common site. No helmets and crazy traffic but it's an economically depressed city like the home of Bruno and Sonia.
As a poster on another thread suggested, "L'Enfant" may not necessarily be referring to Jimmy.

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I was talking about the scene with the schoolboy on the back of the bike without a helmet, not the baby. The chase scene towards the end of the movie, remember? For me it seemed irresponsible for a director to put a boy in danger like that.

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I don't know how much real danger anyone was in. Most film shoots are in pretty controlled environments.

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A naive answer. You only have to think of the 'Twilight Zone' case to realise this is not always true.

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Most doesn't mean all.

Still I understand accidents do happen but I wonder what percentage your example would factor out to?

All films made without incidents versus films where someone was hurt or died.

It is naive to believe precautions are not taken.

“To accept injustice is cowardice.” ---Gandhi

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the fact that people are worried about the safety of actors shows they aren't gripped by the story. i'm afraid that's how i felt also. i just couldn't empathise with a petty criminal who sells his own baby. ok, it is tragic for him also because he is obviously too immature to be a decent father and in later life will realise how badly he has behaved. but to care about a character i think they have to have some sort of quality that makes you think "good for you" and that was missing so i lost interest. if you enjoyed it then well done, maybe you are more forgiving than i am.

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I agree with every word. He has no redeeming features, not even crying at the end which felt false and tacked on by the filmmakers.

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You have completely missed the point of the movie. Please stop spewing your hate (yes, 'cuz arguments, they are not). Sympathy? The film works so one doesn't become attached sentimentally to what the characters do. That's one of the many purposes of its aesthetic choices (no music, anyone?; no arc, per se?). If you'd been aware (intellectually) of what was going on up on the screen, I think you'd have enjoyed it. It was gripping, to say the least, and not the least bit contrived.

PS: Was the last scene's purpose really seeking sympathy? Was it really about redemtion? Was his decision really an epiphany? My answer: No.

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Please. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. But this thread is called 'Disappointing...'

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[deleted]

Only if you stop spewing your third-rate film school tripe. Regarding "no music or arc", why do you think I used the term "verite style"(look it up), Mr. "aesthetic choices"? You claim I "have completely missed the point of the movie", yet don't offer one of your own, and that the last scene's purpose was not seeking sympathy or redemption, yet you never say what the purpose was. Sounds like you're full of crap. If you can watch that final scene, as the beautiful young lovers weep while gazing into each other's eyes, and say with a straight face that it is not meant to evoke sympathy, you must be more retarded than they. Films don't exist in a vacuum, they reflect upon reality, and I can only hope that you are victimized one day by similar criminal scum. If this movie serves any purpose, it's as a powerful argument for the merits of forced sterilization.

P.S. Should someone who can't even spell the word "redemption" question another person's intellectual abilities? My answer: no.

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I suppose that audiences raised to hollywoodian standards can't be but disappointed in this kind of film. For them, everything must be obvious at every moment. Sorry folks, but life isn't like that.

Once caught in those standards of emotional eyecandy, it's very hard for one to see that there can be other ways to make films. I know it, I was like that in my teens. I'm glad I have been since exposed to enough variety so as to consider hollywood a sub-genre rather than THE only possible genre.

This movie may not be as good as La Promesse and Rosetta, but it sure is subtle.

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I have no problem enjoying non-Hollywood movies, in fact I probably see more foreign and "independent" films than mainstream ones. I also don't think that subtitles or non-commercial qualities automatically make a movie worthwhile. Subtle? The final scene is anything but that.

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Just want to point out that because you don't sympathize with the characters or find the character of a petty-thief to your liking, doesn't mean that they are not plausable characters from a different society. In Europe people are not cut out from cardboard samples... everyone is their own character.

I thought the movie was beautiful, and found the characters very believeable, intriguing and real.

P.S. I tried not to get involved in details but in most of the smoking scenes, you could not see the actual baby (except the first one outside), so it could have been a doll. The scooter chase scene, it wasn't dangerous at all and the kid wasn't that young so I am not sure what you guys are going on about.

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[deleted]

" I can only hope that you are victimized one day by similar criminal scum. If this movie serves any purpose, it's as a powerful argument for the merits of forced sterilization. "

And you would be the first candidate?

Please seek medical help.



>> An armadillo could be a
better president than Bush. <<

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While lowlife criminals breed like rabbits and create future criminals. Actually, you would be the first candidate. I can only hope that you too are victimized one day by similar criminal scum.

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I don't know why none of those posters you were arguing with bothered to reply, but I guess I'll address some of your arguments. I hope they realize that most of them come across as sounding pretentious by claiming you're wrong without explaining themselves.

Clearly, the directors intended for us to empathize with the couple, but I only found myself glad that the lead character was behind bars as he wept at the end. The only time my interest picked up was during the chase/hiding sequence. I also couldn't help worrying about the welfare of the infant actor(s) as the actress held it while screaming and pounding the door, as the actors smoked cigarettes while holding it, etc. Maybe someone has to do it but I sure wouldn't let my baby be used like that.


The directors, who are also the writers, would be extremely stupid if they wrote such disgusting characters and attempted to buy the audience's sympathy with them. One poster accused you of being accustomed to Hollywood. Though I see his/her point, the poster did not explain himself/herself well enough. The implication was that, in the Hollywood classical style, the traditional protagonist is also the hero. Therefore, seeing the protagonist cry would likely merit the sympathies of the audience since, as the "hero," we are consistently on their side.

This film, however, is not in the Hollywood classical style, especially in terms of its characters. Bruno is the main character and therefore the protagonist, though he is no hero. I'm sure that I don't have to explain why this is so to you. So what was the purpose of the film, then, if the protagonists were horrible people? Maybe it was a character study meant to depict adults who are children at heart who are flung upon the world of "adulthood" way too soon. That's just an idea, other posters could probably extract other meanings, but I think this would be the general consensus.

Why do Bruno and Sonia cry at the end? I would say it's because of the circumstances they have found themselves in. Their immature actions have finally caught up with them, when it's far too late. They are suffering for the choices they have made. Ideally, how should the audience react? I think that if anyone felt mercy for these people, the directors would feel that their "message" was ineffectively communicated. They should see these characters for the people that they are. Here's another thought: my impression was that the two cry at the end simply because they feel sorry for themselves. This is only further justification of their characters.

The "baby safety" point has been discussed far enough. If there's something you wish to contend, please do not hesitate to reply.

"We played with life and lost." - Jules et Jim, François Truffaut.

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Hate? Hardly. This is one the politest threads I've ever seen on imdb.
In response to your first point, I'm supposed to think the movie was "gripping" BECAUSE I wasn't emotionally attached to any of the characters? I'm sorry, but if I don't care what happens to the characters, I don't care what happens in general, and therefore don't care for the movie in the least.
Yes, I realize that the movie was supposed to be realistic, the lack of music, cinematography, dialogue and settings made that clear, however I DID find it contrived simply because I can imagine myself in their situation but I can't imagine myself acting like them at all.

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It's a great film in the tradition of The Bicycle Thief. It is a shame that films without the bells and whistles, the heart-string tugging scores, the cgi, the flying kung fu kicks, etc. cannot hold our attention anymore!

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Thanks Drudolph for saving me the time. I agree completely with your assessment. I found myself disliking the characters and this film more and more as it went on.

"Only a numbskull thinks he knows things about things he knows nothing about."

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Is that to say that you were moved by the characters?

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I disagree. I don't think you were supposed to empathize with the lead character at all. I didn't in any case. I was glad when he was put behind bars. The only thing that spoiled this film for me was that the girl seemed to forgive the bastard in the end.

Jail is too good for him!

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[deleted]

[deleted]

Excellent post by it_begins.

~~~ Allez Yazid! ~~~

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I watched L' Enfant in film school last week, there's so much it has to offer as a movie. The technique of just letting a scene play out in front of camera with no cuts and leaving in the little details, ie: opening a can, figuring out a stroller, the whole water segment was one take. This is something that is remarkable. And I felt the acting was just right, not too much, not too little, realistic. Plus they used a robitic baby for some scenes, which is just plain neat.

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" I was utterly bored and unmoved by this tale of repulsive, borderline retarded, white trash. "

Perhaps you need to work on your bigotry and short attention span before you can appreciate a film of depth.

"The only time my interest picked up was during the chase/hiding sequence."

And this says it all. There are plenty of car chases in Dukes of Hazzard, so you can enjoy that 'masterpiece'.



>> An armadillo could be a
better president than Bush. <<

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Bigoted against child-abusing, thieving morons? Guilty as charged. If only I were as brilliant as yourself, maybe I too could be enjoying Survivor, "tyurbrner"(was the name "anarchyroolz" already taken?) And what is it with the affinity of liberals and artists for criminals? (see also Capote, Norman Mailer, etc.) By the way, probably my favorite movie so far this year is Cache, not exactly "Hollywoodian". It's interesting that many of those disagreeing with me assume that the reason I didn't like the film is because it's not a mainstream Hollywood one, and apparent that their reading comprehension skills are lacking, considering that I also mentioned in my first post that I liked La Promesse. Not that I need to, but I suppose it's worth saying that I have watched(and enjoyed) many films by directors such as Godard, Resnais and Antonioni, most of them far more challenging and complex than L'Enfant. It's also not necessary for lead characters to be likable in order for a movie to be interesting (for example I Stand Alone). And for all of those praising L'Enfant for its non-Hollywood qualities, it's interesting that the directors certainly didn't skimp on Hollywood-like good looks when choosing their lead actors, and that the ending is as corny as that of any sappy mainstream movie.

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Well said.

"repulsive, borderline retarded, white trash" is a disgraceful comment. If you want alluring, intelligent WASPS go and *beep* rent a DVD of Dallas.

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"disgraceful"? Like the saying goes, "sometimes the truth hurts." If you only want to read views that echo your own, don't go on a *beep* message board. And if you want sympathy for criminals, there's always the New York Times. By the way, genius, most white trash are WASPs.

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You have some pretty good points. I would have to agree that this film disappointed me. It's not a bad film, but it wasn't engaging enough to be one of my favourites. Some of the scenes were superb and I loved the little monotonous actions by Bruno placed throughout the film (in a realistic manner), but overall the film wasn't as interesting as I had hoped. I couldn't empathize with Bruno for the majority of the film and the crying at the end felt too forced.

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