RIFF Review: Our Children
Murielle falls in love with Mounir. They get married but live in a complicated situation with a rich doctor whom they practically live off. They have several children, but things aren’t quite so rosey.
Our Children, a Belgian film by Joachim Lafosse, has character dynamics that sound interesting on paper but completely fail to shine on-screen. The characters are rather unlikable and don’t make up for it by being compelling, instead ending up plain uninteresting. It’s not really the fault of the actors as they do a fine job, but they never draw you in or get you to relate. This leads to several scenes, such as one long take where Murielle is driving and starts to cry, feeling completely over indulgent because they’re unearned. You can’t follow Murielle into the depths of her depression because of the almost sociopathic levels of apathy you’ll have towards the film by then.
The film is just so sterile. Even though we know tragedy will strike, as the opening cues us in on, there’s never any sense of impending doom or internal tension as the film lumbers towards it’s destination. It tries desperately to keep you interested, going so far as throwing children down stairs to get a rise out of you, but it all rings false.
In a technical regard it’s well made, with nice looking, organic cinematography. But it’s all in the service of a largely hollow film. This is perhaps best embodied in the ending, which is supremely well executed. So well in fact that it deserves a much better film than the one we get before it. This flash of brilliance gives a glimpse into the film this could’ve been.
There’s a repetitive, grating violin melody the serves as the film’s score. It never seems to fit the mood, but that seems to fit with the character of Murielle. However, when the operatic vocals kick in it becomes supremely pretentious.
Final Verdict: Our Children is a well acted and made film without an emotional core, that could’ve been so much better. Pretty but ineffectual.