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Le fils (The Son)

Posted by martinteller on July 9, 2011

We’re thrown into a situation loaded with mystery.  Olivier, a carpentry tutor of some sort (like everything else, we learn more about that later), is anxious about something.  He’s moving around nervously, furtively, and appears to be stalking one of the boys at his institution.  Is he afraid?  Curious?  Depraved?  It’s not until half an hour into the film that we learn the nature of his interest in this boy.  Even then, his intentions are unclear.  At one point, he looks in the mirror and he appears to be inscrutable even to himself.  We spend every moment with him, but we don’t know what he’s planning or thinking, but he always seems to be measuring the situation.  The tension is always present, thanks to the restrained but very physical performance of Gourmet, the deliberate pacing of story information, and the tight, menacing camerawork as conceived by the Dardennes.  The action is gripping because we long to get inside Olivier’s head, a character who is some balance of wounded, sympathetic and dangerous, and we don’t know where the balance will fall.  Perhaps at the end we don’t know much more, but we know enough.  A satisfying and engaging film from the Dardennes, who always seem to make so much out of so little.  Rating: 9


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