Review: ‘Life Is A Game Of Cards’

Dutch documentarian Philippe de Pierpont's latest effort is an absorbing portrait of six personable Burundian street kids revisited at different stages prior to their shaky adulthood. Laid-back "Cards" lacks the drama necessary for theatrical play, but docu's quiet virtues will shine at nonfiction fests.

Dutch documentarian Philippe de Pierpont’s latest effort is an absorbing portrait of six personable Burundian street kids revisited at different stages prior to their shaky adulthood. In 1991, the pre-teens welcome Pierpont into their circle, the rigors of their precarious existence then secondary to their remarkable esprit de corps. Later, the effortless rapport between filmmaker and subjects allows the camera to serve as facilitator and finally as glue as the group reassembles to testify to its chronicler. Laid-back “Cards” lacks the drama necessary for theatrical play, but docu’s quiet virtues will shine at nonfiction fests.

The civil war in Burundi knocks a nine-year gap in Pierpont’s running coverage: When he returns in 2003, he finds the kids grown-up, but scattered and disillusioned. The leader and most dynamic of the bunch is now confined to a mental hospital, while the others toil in black-market trades or dead-end apprenticeships. Yet they possess a rare resiliency and integrity stronger than their circumstances. Paradoxically, the only youth to escape the streets, studying and residing at a Christian hostel, seems somehow diminished in his safe but sadly institutionalized surroundings.

Life Is A Game Of Cards

Belgium

Production

An ARTE France/Derives/Lapsus/RTBF//WIP production. Produced by Jean-Pierre, Luc Dardenne (Derives), Esther Hoffenberg (Lapsus). Directed, written by Philippe de Pierpont.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Gil Decamp, Alain Marcoen; editor, Philippe Boucq. Reviewed at MOMA -- Documentary Fortnight, New York, Feb. 14, 2005. Bantu, French dialogue. Running time: 70 MIN.
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading