Olivier (played by Olivier Gourmet) is a skilled carpenter. He works at a Young Persons’ Rehab Centre to help youths develop skills in carpentry. This is a good job for him – he can focus on this totally and rebuild his quiet life after a terrible trauma involving the violent death of his young son. He tries hard to give the Centre’s attendees a solid a start so they can have hope of a more positive future. He has somehow transferred his attention from his lost son to them, so he’s happy to do it. One day, the Centre Director (by Annette Closset) brings a new attendee to his class. He recognises this young man, Francis (by Morgan Marianne) with a terrible feeling – so he refuses and tells her the class is full. When he follows up, he realises this is the boy who committed the crime that resulted in his son’s death. What should he do? His son is not coming back … should he refuse this boy his chance of improving his future prospects?
This movie is an enigma. The performances of Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marianne and Isabella Soupart, who plays Magali, the mother of Olivier’s son, are strong. The production is very good – it has a very specific plot focus, often with little dialogue – but talk is not necessary, the audience is engaged enough to watch and want to know what will happen next. The camera work is like nothing I’ve seen before – it’s not “fly on the wall” exactly, but more like “spider on the shoulder” … sounds weird, I know, but it’s shot from the close-up perspective of Olivier’s movements and often seems like the viewer is sitting on Olivier’s shoulder. It’s very well done and Directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne would have been highly meticulous in their work to create it. The movie has been universally applauded, including the 2002 Cannes Film Festival which gave the award for Best Actor to Olivier Gourmet and the movie a nomination for Palm D’Or. Very well done.
Made in 2002. Directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne