(Les Diables)
Directed by Christophe Ruggia. France/Spain. 2002.

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In the film industry, there is a cliché saying ‘no children or animals’, meaning that these two categories are known to be difficult to work with and should best be avoided. However, in the case of Les Diables, one sees an exception to this rule because all the children put in such a big effort. Especially the two young leads, Adele Haenel and Vincent Rottiers, who turned out such wonderful performances. 

The Devils (Les Diables). All Rights Reserved.Les Diables is not an easy film. There are disturbing images, disturbing ‘child’s logic’. This is a very bold attempt of a rather difficult topic.  Society, law and society, coming out of age and sexual awareness, two misfits, two runaways and two outlaws.  Nevertheless, there are a few tender moments - when the two children are together, when they are in a world of their own, they have a kind of sweetness that no one outside it can understand.  Here, the director depicts love, strong love, an unbreakable bond that no one can take away; an inter-dependency - they really needed each other to exist, to survive. 

Adele Haenel was superb in playing the mentally retarded 12-year old, with her dumbness and her special walk and feet stamping as well as her very innocent sweet smile. However, Vincent Rottiers as the 15-year old was particularly impressive. His expression said it all…his anger, despair, hatred, his inner conflict, his love and sense of responsibility that forced him to mature before his age. He portrayed them all incredibly. He is definitely one to watch out for the future. 

The story may not be completely plausible and it may even be upsetting at times, but the director has truly produced a remarkable piece of work with the two young leads.  On leaving the cinema, one could not help but feel utterly sympathetic to the two poor ‘devils’ who did not know which way to turn.  It is worthwhile just to go and see their performances and their performances alone! 

Sonya Bo-Lynx
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Material Copyright © 2003 Nigel Watson