Left-over Spaces: The Cinema of the Dardenne Brothers

Benoit Dillet, Tara Puri


The object of this study is the presence and the operation of space in the films of the Dardenne brothers. In this paper, we will examine three films - Rosetta, The Child and The Silence of Lorna - and present the argument that they depict an original account of the contemporary European city as a totality (in this case an eastern Belgian steel town). The construction of the characters, their relationships, and the moral implications of their actions are usually the most discussed aspect of the Dardennes' cinema. Instead, we want to shift focus to the city, focusing on its concrete, visceral materiality. The aim of this paper is to chart out the leaden landscape of these films, by tracing the movements of the protagonists in two particular kinds of recurring spaces: the woods that lie next to motorways in Rosetta and The Silence of Lorna, and the motorways that feature prominently in The Child. Even though these spaces are the left-over spaces of the city, cut out and discarded from the inner spaces of the city, they are still heavily inscribed and symbolic sites. Not only do they move the plot forward and are expressive of the characters that inhabit them, they also engage in a sustained, though understated, political critique.


Dardenne; urban landscape; political; non-place

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