Film is a visual medium. When the talkies came in people questioned its validity: “Who wants chitter chat and blah blah when all we need is pictures?”
Now we have blockbusters, CGI, 3-D and crass scripts. Where is the heart? Where the silence?
On the indy arthouse circuit, that’s where.
Our Children was the Belgian nominee for Best Foreign Film at last year’s Oscars. It didn’t win, but was there in contention.
Based on a true story, the film moves into a dark place where the conscious mind loses touch with reason as despair eats the soul.
It is about infatuation, marriage, compromise, children and an odd situation involving a doctor (Niels Arestrup), his adopted Moroccan son (Tahar Rahim), and Murielle (Emilie Dequenne), a primary schoolteacher, who marries the son.
Although the doctor puts no pressure on Murielle, his presence and generosity – they live in his apartment in Brussels – has a suffocating effect. “I feel walled in,” she tells her therapist, as the shadows of madness creep ever closer.
This is the silence that stills sensibility and makes other people’s responses incomprehensible.
She has four beautiful children, an attractive husband and a privileged lifestyle. And yet she’s drowning and they don’t see it, can’t reach it, don’t know.
The film is a slow burner. Writer/director Joachim Lafosse allows Dequenne to express Murielle’s depression in her own way. It is a performance of great subtlety.
Truth hurts. This hurts.