I love this odd, lovely Belgian film.

The plot is so minimal, the story so tightly compressed, I can’t say much without giving too many things away. A 16-year-old boy, released from several years in juvenile detention, comes to a small vocational school in Liège hoping to learn carpentry. He’s a wounded, jaded, yet somehow still innocent and vulnerable kid, played to understated perfection by Morgan Marinne. We know nothing of his criminal past.

The carpentry instructor — veteran character actor Olivier Gourmet — is initially reluctant to take him on. But quickly the two find themselves in a tense mutual entanglement (“relationship” would be pushing it a step too far) which seems fated to end badly, perhaps quite awfully indeed.

From start to finish, nothing here is what you expect. The film has the minimalist mise-en-scène of classic European art films — for which I usually have little patience — but also the tightly coiled tension of a Hitchcockian thriller. Queue it up.

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[Edit: And by the way … I did not actually rent this film from Netflix. I do not have a Netflix account. I plucked this off the Foreign shelf at the incomparable HAV II in Camden. I believe in supporting local businesses, but more to the point, our hometown video store is the hub of my winter social life. Know pity.]

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