Synopsis by Elbert Ventura
This downbeat drama by acclaimed Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne bears a thematic and formal resemblance to their previous works, La Promesse and the Palme D'Or winner Rosetta. Dardenne brothers' regular Olivier Gourmet is in every frame as the stern Olivier, a carpenter who teaches the craft to teenagers seeking a vocation. Olivier's drab routine is interrupted by the enrollment of a new student, Francis (Morgan Marinne), who becomes the object of the carpenter's inexplicable obsession. Speaking with his ex-wife, Magali (Isabella Soupart), about his new charge, Olivier reveals the reason for his fixation: Francis was the young street tough who murdered their child years ago. Now out of juvenile prison, Francis seeks to start anew, and eventually even asks the flummoxed Olivier to become his guardian. Olivier withholds his knowledge from the oblivious Francis, even as a tentative relationship between the two develops. The tense scenario leads to a climactic confrontation at a lumberyard, as the past finally catches up with teacher and student. This rigorous and deliberately paced film played in competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, where Gourmet was awarded the best actor prize.
carpenter, father, murder, son, obsession, teacher