Petits Freres | Chicago Reader

Petits Freres

"Because I failed high school, I have always been on the fringe," veteran French director Jacques Doillon once remarked, and the five young teens in his 1999 feature seem equally alienated, forced to fend for themselves in a world that offers them no stability. Talia flees her stepfather, an apparent pedophile, to hang out with four Arab and African boys, who immediately steal her pit bull; one of them, who's developed a crush on her, tries to recover the dog after some older boys use it for dogfights. The youths have little outlet for their energies other than petty crime, and Doillon effectively captures their flailings with tight close-ups in which the movement of the camera, the characters, or both is as aimless as it is rapid. Occasionally, surreal images underline the absurdity of their lives, like the kids on a moped seen making off with a mannequin wearing a wedding dress. In French with subtitles.

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