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Sympathy for the devil

Joachim Lafosse has us aching with sympathy for someone guilty of the most horrendous of crimes

Nicholas Barber | May/June 2013

When two twentysomethings with no money get engaged, the groom-to-be’s wealthy mentor invites the lovebirds to share his spacious home in suburban Brussels. Their money worries are over, it seems, just in time for the bride-to-be (Emilie Dequenne) to conceive a child. But wait. The benefactor and his protegé are played by Niels Arestrup and Tahar Rahim, the toad-like Mr Big and the tyro gangster from “A Prophet”, and their close association in our minds is merely the first indication that Dequenne is destined to rank a distant troisième in this particular ménage a trois.

In the current economic climate, she can hardly object to Arestrup’s patronising generosity, or to Rahim’s devoted gratitude to his surrogate father, but she can hardly escape, either. Soon, the two men, thick as thieves, have robbed her of all her power—or nearly all. Based on an incident that shocked Belgium in 2007, "Our Children" is an exquisitely acted, masterfully structured tragedy that has plenty to say about charity, immigration, mental health and the battle of the sexes. But the great achievement of its writer-director, Joachim Lafosse, is to have us aching with sympathy for someone who is guilty of the most horrendous of crimes. ~ Nicholas Barber

Our Children (A Perdre la Raison) opens in Britain May 10th

FILM AT A GLANCE

I’m So Excited! (opens in Britain May 3rd). Fasten your seatbelt. Pedro Almodóvar takes a holiday from twisted drama to make a frothy dayglo comedy about the mile-high club. It’s "Airplane" on poppers.

Mud (May 10th). Matthew McConaughey spent years sauntering from dreadful romantic comedy to dreadful action comedy, usually with his shirt off. But "Magic Mike" and "Killer Joe" have shown that he can radiate desperation, not just cockiness. After "Mud", a brooding "Huck Finn" update, his name will be mud no longer.

The Great Gatsby (May 17th). No complaints about the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan as Jay and Daisy, but can F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece really work as a camp 3D frenzy of stroboscopic editing and contemporary pop music? As the director is Baz Luhrmann, we’re about to find out.

Something in the Air (May 24th). Olivier Assayas’s account of his teenage radicalism is dreamily beautiful—perhaps too beautiful. Apparently, far-left activism in 1971 amounted to a sun-dappled gap year, and Assayas’s main worry was which nubile mademoiselle to go to bed with next.

Populaire (May 31st). A light, bright rom-com about one Frenchwoman’s mission to become the world’s fastest typist. The styling is straight from "Mad Men", the tone, and several of the cast and crew, straight from "The Artist".

The Company You Keep (June 7th). Robert Redford returns as an anti-Vietnam vet who goes on the run when his cover is blown. Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte make this "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" of political thrillers.

Much Ado About Nothing (June 14th). Who but Joss Whedon could go from "Avengers Assemble" to this? Shot in his garden, it is one of the most delightful screen Shakespeares. 
~ NB

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