Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne

"The Dardennes' films hardly have dialogue; their characters don't make big speeches. Instead, their camera says it all, simple and effective, with respect. In doing so they achieve the pressing social relevance that all realist cinema aims for." - Ernest Mathijs (501 Movie Directors, 2007)

Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne

Director / Screenwriter / Producer
JEAN-PIERRE (1951- ) Born April 21, Engis, Wallonia, Belgium; LUC (1954- ) Born March 10, Awirs, Wallonia, Belgium
Top 250 Directors / 21st Century's Top 50 Directors

Key Production Countries: Belgium, France
Key Genres: Drama, Psychological Drama, Social Problem Film, Family Drama, Coming-of-Age, Childhood Drama
Key Collaborators: Alain Marcoen (Cinematographer), Olivier Gourmet (Leading Character Actor), Marie-Hélène Dozo (Editor), Jeremie Renier (Leading Actor), Fabrizio Rongione (Leading Actor), Denis Freyd (Producer), Igor Gabriel (Production Designer), Mireille Bailly (Character Actress), Frederic Bodson (Character Actor), Morgan Marinne (Leading Actor), Bernard Marbaix (Leading Character Actor), Florian Delain (Leading Character Actor)

"So much of modern cinema is built on visual flourishes and technological gimmicks that it’s easy to forget that the most enthralling special effect of all is the sight of characters moving through space, their body language, facial expressions and mundane actions telling you what they believe and feel. The Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne believe this, and they’ve created a distinctive aesthetic around their conviction. They tend to tell stories about poor or working-class people. They employ long takes, existing locations, ambient sound and natural (or natural-seeming) light to connect the characters to their surroundings, and emphasize how the characters’ physical environment and social conditioning shape their personalities and affect (sometimes dictate) their choices." - Matt Zoller Seitz (Salon, 2009)
"The universe of the Dardenne brothers - one of austerity, poverty and crime - is a world away from the mussels and beer stereotypes of theme-bar Belgium... The Dardennes' films are characterized by a certain raw energy and by similar themes, settings and visual idioms. Their characters exist on the margins of society - black marketeers, illegal immigrants, minimum-wage earners - and are locked into painful, unresolved issues with either their parents or their children." - Lloyd Hughes (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"The Belgian social realists Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne fabricate simple but not simplistic human dramas examining the moral and ethical dilemmas of working-class characters scraping together a meager existence in the brothers' hometown of Liège." - Andrew Bailey (Cinema Now, 2007)
"Widely admired for tense, tightly plotted films like Rosetta and The Son, the brothers have elevated close observation of actors’ bodies into a stylized method, developing a meticulously constructed and relentlessly restless aesthetic of seeing." - Damon Smith (Reverse Shot)
"The Dardennes, who hail from the industrial suburb of Seraing, on Belgium’s Meuse River, remain fascinated by and committed to the specificities of the class struggle seen through the lens of the every day. In this way films such as The Son and The Child offer a type of transcendental materialism, grounding their clearly spiritual dimensions in a mode of existential parable about awakening political consciousness and the struggle to live, to survive and forgive." - Harvard Film Archive, 2009
"Petty thieves, tenement scrabblers, haunted laborers—outcasts abound in the worlds captured by the inquisitive, often suffocatingly immediate camera of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Renowned for such unforgettable portraits of morality and redemption as The Son and L'Enfant, the Belgian filmmakers survey their characters' struggles with humanistic urgency and a documentary attention to details while introducing elements of spiritual allegory into the naturalistic fabric of their narratives, fascinatingly complicating their image as gritty neo-realists." - Fernando F. Croce (Slant Magazine, 2011)
"In order to film what you want to show on a face or a body, you first have to decide what you want to hide." - Jean-Pierre Dardenne
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
Rosetta (1999) , The Son (2002) , The Kid with a Bike (2011)
Recommended
La Promesse (1996), L'Enfant (2005)
Worth a Look
Lorna's Silence (2008)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmographies: Jean-Pierre Dardenne / Luc Dardenne
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne / Favourite Films
Accattone (1961) Pier Paolo Pasolini, The Big Heat (1953) Fritz Lang, Dodes'ka-den (1970) Akira Kurosawa, Germany, Year Zero (1947) Roberto Rossellini, Loulou (1980) Maurice Pialat, Modern Times (1936) Charles Chaplin, The Searchers (1956) John Ford, Shoah (1985) Claude Lanzmann, Street of Shame (1956) Kenji Mizoguchi, Sunrise (1927) F.W. Murnau.
Source: Sight & Sound 2012
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