The Dardenne brothers aren’t afraid to take on risky subjects, as evidenced by their latest film—winner of the best director award at the Cannes Festival—about a 13-year-old boy fascinated with radical Islam. The eponymous Ahmed prefers to read the Koran and study with an imam he’s befriended than to have fun or hang out with kids his own age. His behavior soon becomes a problem for both his family and his teachers. He won’s shake a woman’s hand, he doesn’t tolerate infidels, he’s deaf to the laments of his caring mother, and, what’s more, he’s starting to show a tendency to violence and even acts of terror. This all leads him along the wrong path and eventually lands him in a correctional facility Surrounded by great care and rehabilitated in various ways, he seems to have lost his revolutionary zeal. But Ahmed remains impenetrable: with an emotionless face, he appears at times to be the embodiment of purity and, at others, of pure evil. As is typical of the French duo, this realistic story about a burning contemporary issue takes on features of a parable. This isn’s commentary; there are difficult questions for which no one has an answer.
The Dardenne brothers-Jean-Pierre (1951-) and Luc (1954-)-are French directors, producers, and screenwriters. While they began their career in the 1970s, they did not attract the attention of international critics until two decades later with their film La Promesse (1996). Three years after that, their film Rosettacaptured a Palme d'Or at Cannes. They have been strengthening their position ever since and adding to their awards collection. They like working with amateur actors. Their films are minimalistic and socially oriented.
1996 Obietnica / La Promesse
2002 Syn / Le fils / The Son
2005 Dziecko / L’enfant / The Child
2008 Milczenie Lorny / Le silence de Lorna / Lorna's Silence
2011 Chłopiec na rowerze / Le gamin au vélo / The Kid with a Bike
2014 Dwa dni, jedna noc / Deux jours, une nuit / Two Days, One Night
2016 Nieznajoma dziewczyna / La fille inconnue / The Unknown Girl
2019 Młody Ahmed / Le jeune Ahmed / Young Ahmed