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NYFF: “L’Enfant.”

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Déborah François and Jérémie RenierA superb bit of social realism, the Dardennes brother‘s "L’Enfant (The Child)" is, in a quiet way, near flawless filmmaking. The film, which hardly needs more praise, having been graced with the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year, opens with a young girl out on the street holding a baby. She goes up to an apartment (hers) only to find it sublet out to strangers who won’t let her in — from her reaction, this isn’t anything new. She wanders through the city until she finds the baby’s father, Bruno (Jérémie Renier), sparing for change. He hadn’t called or come to visit her when she was in the hospital, but she doesn’t mind — she’s happy to see him

Bruno, a charismatic hustler, makes a carefree living begging and fencing goods he and his young protégés have stolen. He’s impulsive and charming, spending cash freely as he gets it, and we see, when he splurges on a convertible for a day and takes her out driving in it, why the girl, Sonia (in an excellent performance by newcomer Déborah François), is so drawn to him despite his unreliability. The two are like children themselves, giggling and chasing each other around, but we soon see exactly how unfit a parent Bruno is — while Sonia waits in line for unemployment, Bruno, on a whim, follows up on a tip about selling babies for adoption, and actually does it. He doesn’t realize what a terrible thing he’s done until he sees Sonia’s reaction, and then he flounders desperately to make everything all right again.

Set in the kind of grim, industrial part of Belgium the Dardennes are so fond of, "L’Enfant" is shot in natural light with a lot of skillful hand-held camerawork. Renier, who made his debut in the Dardennes’ 1996 film "La Promesse," is so good it’s hard to fully appreciate his performance until the film is over, where one can grasp the gradual extent of Bruno’s transformation and eventual his attempt at redemption.

All this being said, it’s hard to feel particularly excited about "L’Enfant." The Dardennes keep churning out masterpieces of subtle competence — after a while, one starts longing for them to do something grandiose and tacky, possibly based around a remake of a 70s TV show or such.

"L’Enfant" will be released in early 2006 by Sony Pictures Classics.

Click here for all the NY Film Festival reviews thus far.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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