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Les Diables

Director: Christophe Ruggia

FRANCE-SPAIN| 2002. FRENCH DIALOGUE. ENGLISH SUBTITLES. COLOUR. ANAMORPHIC. DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO. 105 MINUTES.


A lacerating film about the stunted lives of two children whose mother abandoned them when they were tiny, Les Diables is a hard-hitting yet extremely sensitive contemporary drama. Distinguished by remarkable performances from young Adele Haenel and especially Vincent Rottiers as the traumatised siblings, and directed with a sure hand by Christophe Ruggia, this is an impressive and at the same time deeply sad picture. Chloe (Haenel) is about 13, her brother Joseph (Rottiers) maybe a year younger. Chloe has been so severely damaged by a life of abandonment that her mind has been affected. Joseph is a hardened street kid who looks older than his years, and he is fiercely protective of his older sister. He has always insisted that they be allowed to stay together; he hopes maybe they’ll eventually find their home and even the love he so obviously craves. But it’s a forlorn hope in a cruel society that keeps the siblings on the run and, when they steal as they are forced to do, hunts them down.
The film is at its best when it places the viewer inside the world of these battered, mentally damaged youngsters. The opening credits are accompanied by the plaintive song used in Charles Laughton’s film The Night of the Hunter, which has lyrics about little children who ‘fly away’. It makes for an evocative start to a film many will find painful to experience but that lingers in the memory.

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