Archive of films The Son / Le fils

2002, 100 min

Section: Horizons - Awarded Films
Year: 2002

Who is the boy called Francis? Why does the older Olivier watch his every move, both in the cabinet-making workshop and out in the street? What attracts him about the boy and what fills him with dread? These questions are answered in the new film by brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, awarded this year in Cannes; their film Rosetta won the Palme d’Or in 1999.


Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, holders of the Palme d’Or award for Rosetta (1999), this time chose a man as their central character but remained faithful to their restless camera technique incorporating large close-ups and body details, and their focus on the character’s social definition. Thirty-year-old Olivier heads a cabinet-making training centre and lives alone. His marriage to Magali has broken down, evidently the consequence of losing their only child five years earlier. One day sixteen-year-old Francis appears in the workshop looking for an apprenticeship, having just been released from a prison for young offenders. Olivier recognises in him the murderer of their small son but betrays nothing to the boy. Almost against his will he is captivated by Francis’ skill and will to learn the trade, and also his reserve and reticence. The moment of truth comes when Olivier takes Francis on an excursion into the woods and reveals who he is. “We couldn’t have envisaged making this film with any other actor” say the directors of Olivier Gourmet, whom the jury at this year’s Cannes festival presented with the award for Best Actor.

About the director

Jean-Pierre Dardenne (b. 1951, Engis, Belgium) is a professional actor, his brother Luc Dardenne (1954) studied philosophy. In 1975 they founded the production company Dérives and in 1981 the company Films Dérives Production. They chiefly focused on documentaries made for video: Le chant du rossignol (1978), Lorsque le bateau de Léon M. déscendit la Meuse pour la premiere fois (1979), Pour que la guerre s´ acheve, les murs devaient s´écrouler (1980), répond plus (1981), Lecons d´une université volant (1982), Regarde Jonathan/ Jean Louvet, son oeuvre (1983). Features: Falsch (1986), La promesse (1996) and Rosetta – Palme d’Or and Best Actress shared at Cannes 1999). Both films were screened at Karlovy Vary.

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Horizons - Awarded Films
Director: Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Screenplay: Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Dir. of Photography: Alain Marcoen
Editor: Marie-Hélene Dozo
Producer: Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Denis Freyd
Production: Les Films du Fleuve, Archipel 35, RTBF
Cast: Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marinne, Isabella Soupart, Rémy Renaud

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