A Prophet stars Tahar Rahim and Niels Arestrup reunite for Joachim Lafosse’s riveting drama
The two central actors in Jacques Audiard's 2009 masterpiece A Prophet are reunited, and their dynamic entirely reorientated, in Belgian filmmaker Joachim Lafosse’s riveting drama Our Children, a fictionalisation of a real life story where four children died at the hands of their mother
Émilie Dequenne stars as Murielle, whom we first meet in a state of catatonic anguish. Her children, she insists, should be laid to rest ‘leur pays’, in ‘their country’ of Morocco. Outside the hospital room, her husband Mounir (Tahar Rahim) is sternly held by an elder man, as four knee-high coffins are packed in an airliner. A flashback to the seed of the tragedy shows a youthful romance and a quick wedding. Mounir’s adoptive father André (Niels Arestrup), a doctor who ‘rescued’ Mounir from his native Morocco is ever present. Never obvious, he pays for their wedding, joins them on their honeymoon, insists they live in his home and discreetly exerts his will on everything.
The film builds as the young mother finds herself caught in a perpetual loop of pregnancy, prey to the incessant demands of maternity and subjugated by her increasingly indifferent husband and forced-upon father-in-law. Through Lafosse’s vivid lensing and framing, Our Children exerts a steely grip. Yet the film remains restrained, detached and balanced; the unknowable depression of a murdering mother carefully given psychological and sociological context, not conveniently packaged and easily explained away.
Such social conscience and moral relativism is applaudable, but it's accompanied by a sense that there was scope here to create a film more dangerous, more reckless, more drugged on its potent, terrible power.
Limited release from Fri 10 May.