Racer and the Jailbird

Review by Hannah Woodhead @goodjobliz

Directed by

Michael R Roskam

Starring

Adèle Exarchopoulos Eric De Staercke Matthias Schoenaerts

Anticipation.

Director Roskam’s The Drop and Haun weren’t bad.

Enjoyment.

Matthias and Adele don’t look like they’re enjoying themselves.

In Retrospect.

A car crash. And not the Cronenberg kind.

Matthias Schoenaerts and Adèle Exarchopoulos couple up in this naff Belgian crime-drama.

In its native Belgian, Michaël R Roskam’s latest feature was titled Le Fidèle (The Faithful), which is fairly alright as far as movie names go. In the crazy world of international film distribution and title translation, this evolved into the rather clunky Racer and the Jailbird. This naff nomenclature serves as a warning as effective as the signage above Dante’s apocryphal Inferno: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”

It stars Adèle Exarchopoulos as Bibi, the eponymous Racer, and Matthias Schoenaerts as Gigi, the Jailbird. The pair meet and – at breakneck speed – fall in love. At this point the story diverges into three parts which chart their romance, Gigi’s exploits as a Belgian bank robber, and the aftermath in which a heist goes spectacularly awry. Things descend into morose melodrama from then on, as Bibi pines for Gigi and becomes embroiled with gangsters in misguided attempts to free her incarcerated lover. All the while, Gigi skulks around looking glum.

It’s an insipid tale which takes plot inspiration from the likes of petrolhead antics of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive and David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, but lacks any of the ambition and creativity which propelled those films to greatness. The weak script offers little in the way of character development for its two central players, and manages to include more sex scenes than chances for Bibi to display any facet of her personality that doesn’t revolve around her ne’er-do-well fiancé.

A spectacularly stupid third-act twist undermines the rest of the plot, and given how little character development is offered beyond a few laboured dog metaphors that hint at Gigi’s troubled upbringing, there’s no reason to really care about the peril facing the couple. Painfully serious and unintentionally silly, this is self-indulgent filmmaking at its worst, and a frustratingly boring attempt at reinventing the neo-noir wheel.

Published 11 Jul 2018

Tags: Adèle Exarchopoulos Matthias Schoenaerts

Anticipation.

Director Roskam’s The Drop and Haun weren’t bad.

Enjoyment.

Matthias and Adele don’t look like they’re enjoying themselves.

In Retrospect.

A car crash. And not the Cronenberg kind.

Read More

The Drop

By Adam Woodward

The late James Gandolfini shows Tom Hardy how it’s done in this gritty gutter thriller.

review

The Man from U.N.C.L.E

By David Ehrlich

Guy Ritchie’s frisky take on this ’60s spy serial is all mood and no meat. Great music selections though…

review

Rust and Bone

By Basia Lewandowska Cummings

Jacques Audiard shows us his little-seen feminine side in this eccentric, high-styled emo romance.

review LWLies Recommends

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, we’ve been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design