They may not get the headlines that shower the Coens or the Farrellys, but Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne have been behind some of the most brutally naturalistic and evocative arthouse hits of recent years, including this 2005 Palme D’or winner. Using seedy urban locations, fluid, handheld camerawork and some intense character observation, L’Énfant tells the story of Bruno (Jérémie Renier) and Sonia (Déborah François), a carefree couple with a newborn child, living off state benefits and petty theft.
Bruno is so small-time, he barely qualifies as a hustler, and when he sells his infant son on a whim to an adoption racket, it’s a deed of unfathomable awfulness. Yet the Dardennes’ genius is in hooking you into Bruno’s plight as he flounders desperately, trying to make everything all right again. This makes L’Énfant a film that will stick with you long after you’ve pressed the eject button.