Cannes Film Festival
Between 1996 and 2005, Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne made four uniformly masterful films, all updating the moral and aesthetic principles of Italian neorealism to contemporary cultural and socioeconomic concerns. Films like Rosetta and L’Enfant are masterpieces because they come upon their empathy and their distinctly humanist messages without the slightest sign of calculation. These films are quintessentially character pieces: The Dardennes’ over-the-shoulder camera technique has become a kind of shorthand in European cinema for self-conscious attempts to create the visceral experience of a given, usually lower-class environment, but for the brothers it always tethered us to understandings of specific characters’ emotions. In recent years, though, the Dardennes have swapped their organic style for a more clinical and mannered one, and the results have tended to show the schematics of a formula that had always been so well concealed.