L’enfant d’en haut
Directed by Ursula Meier
Written by Antoine Jaccoud & Ursula Meier
Starring Kacey Mottet Klien, Lea Seydoux, Gillian Anderson
Channeling the social anxieties of the Dardenne Brothers with a nod to the political posturing of ultra-realist Ken Loach, Ursula Meier’s second feature is a distanced, distracting fable on the modern family structure. Like her 2008 debut Home the simply titled Sister is another puzzling tale which is bruisingly ascetic in tone, an emotional neutered piece which slowly builds an arresting snapshot of lives in a codified and fragmented, unsecured and uncertain free-fall.
The impish twelve year old Simon (Klien) lives with his sister in a decrepit council block at the foot of a popular ski resort in the Swiss alps. With no adult parents in sight and bereft of cash Simon spends his days as a mirror of some modern day Dickensian figure of Alpine descent, pilfering the tourists jackets, coats and backpacks for food and cash, selling on the more affluent skiing gear to the local street level hucksters in an almost gentile, agreeable black market. His older sister Louise is an abrasive sort, working at menial service level jobs until her fiery demeanor gets her fired and she is forced onto the next short term contract, she spends her evening with local men of a loose and easy virtue and it is vaguely suggested that she may be hooking on the side. Incrementally the siblings back-story and predicament is drawn together and emotionally exposed, as their unsustainable predicament draws to an inevitable conclusion.