Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Les Diables 2002 (eng subs)

Also Known As: The Devils, Los Diablos
Released in: 2002
Length: 105 minutes
Warning: Rated NR: sexual themes; violence; profanity; moderate nudity; intense adult themes
Language: French (with English subtitles)
by billy_kid
A boy (Vincent Rottiers) and girl (Adele Haenel), both in the midst of puberty, escape a number of children's homes and allude the cops as they search for the parents who abandoned them at birth. When a woman appears and informs the lad that she is his mother but not his "sister's," our hero reacts with disbelief and becomes more and more aggressive in his attempts to keep him and his "sibling" together. A powerful, disturbing and equally controversial film featuring an outstanding performance by Haenel as a quasi-autistic. Highly recommended!

Here's a film that would never be made in North America. Not as it exists in its current form, anyway.

Frank, disturbing and somewhat unsettling, this French drama follows two orphans—Joseph (Vincent Rottiers) and the possibly autistic Chloé (Adèle Haenel)—as they set out to find the parents who abandoned them in the streets years earlier. It's kind of a coming-of-age road movie with the sort of eye-opening, um, "flourishes" the French are known for. Joseph and Chloé, who does not speak, have been on their own for years, shuffling between foster homes and institutions... usually running away and being brought back over and over again. It's not really clear what's wrong with Chloé, but she's soothed by savant-like mosiacs she creates with pieces of broken glass. As the pair carry on with their journey towards a dreamed-up home they imagine to be their own, they commit crimes, flee bullies, escape an orphanage and slowly begin to discover the truth about themselves and growing up.

I say this film would never be made in here because of its stark portrayal of budding sexuality between the two children. Chloé is, at times, totally nude onscreen—full frontal—which would raise more than a few MPAA eyebrows given the fact that the actress playing her was 12 at the time. It's not a fun film to watch, and the unsettled feeling filmgoers get in their stomachs pops up several times over the course of the story.

It's a powerfully affecting film, though, and it has a sort of haunting quality. Joseph and Chloé, however flawed their thinking might be, are nothing if not dedicated to each other and determined in their goals. And the two young actors, whom director Christophe Ruggia explained were actually disturbed children he had worked with for six months prior to shooting, were excellent.



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