Racer and the Jailbird
Directed by Michael R. Roskam
HOME, 19 July 2018
This is a curious, though it has to be said effective, hybrid of heist thriller and tragic love story.
Gigi (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a guy who robs banks with a gang of mates he has known since childhood. Of course he presents himself to the world as legit, a businessman who imports and exports cars. Bibi (Adele Exarchopoulos) is a young woman who works for her father (it’s a job) but otherwise relaxes by racing fast cars around a track. That’s how Gigi and Bibi meet. And fall in love.
It is an unexpected, unsettling journey with a lot going for it, and well worth the price of the ticket. You get exciting set-pieces: the gang storming into a bank, later holding up an armoured car. You get beautiful Belgium: gothic churches, streamlined buildings, verdant countryside. And beyond this, for the film is not simply a series of cinematic postcards, the cruel economic landscape of a New Europe where business deals segue into extortion and corruption. And somewhere in all of this there are two damaged people, Gigi and Bibi, attempting to forge a life together.
What I especially like about this film is that it is slick but not superficial: a difficult trick to pull off.