UK Release date: 23rd March 2012
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 1st September 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I remember this one was very highly acclaimed by the critics on release and so it was duly placed on ‘The List’. So I was surprised to see it appear in the TV listings (on the BBC) just over a year after its UK release. Needless to say it was added to my planner and duly recorded. And so having watched this Belgian film, yes, it’s Belgian, I can honestly say I felt a little let down by the critics. Not that it was bad you understand, more because expectations were a little higher than normal and the film didn’t quite live up to them. I’ll tell you more after this very brief summary.
A young boy, Cyril Catoul (Thomas Doret), finds himself in a care home after his grandmother dies and his father disappears. All he wants is to find his dad, Guy (Jérémie Renier), and go back living with him. To this end he is constantly going back to the estate where he thinks his father lives. A woman who runs a local hairdresser’s, Samantha (Cécile De France), takes pity on him and agrees to foster him at weekends. Of course Cyril uses this time to search for his father; but having found him, he is not exactly thrilled with the outcome (I won’t tell you what happens – spoilers). This sends him off the rails a bit and one of the local criminal fraternity, Wes (Egon Di Mateo), decides to take advantage. And I will leave it there.
I found this a bit of a contradictory film; on one had there are some really great performances, on the other; I found it hard to see the motivation behind some of the actions taking place on the screen. Maybe I’m not as good at reading characters as I thought; but then again, it’s a very long time since I was a twelve(ish) year old boy. As to the performances, well, I thought both Thomas Doret and Cécile De France were truly excellent. I can’t say we really got to see the gritty realism of the streets of Belgium because it wasn’t all that gritty, or maybe that’s as gritty as Belgium gets. It was, however, well made but didn’t do anything particularly extraordinary. Worth a look? Definitely, but I don’t think I’ll be giving it a repeat viewing anytime soon.
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 7.1/10.
IMDb Score: 7.3/10 (based on 13,150 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 87/100: (Based on 33 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 76/100: (based on 23,356 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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