The only threat to the romance between thief Gino (Matthias Schoenaerts) and race car driver Bénédicte is the lure of his next heist, in this latest crime-thriller from Belgian director Michaël R. Roskam (Bullhead, The Drop).
Racer and the Jailbird
Michaël R. Roskam
Reuniting with the exceptionally talented Matthias Schoenaerts, Belgian director Michaël R. Roskam returns to the criminal underbelly with Racer and the Jailbird. But in a departure from the small-time crooks of Bullhead and The Drop (TIFF 2014), his latest feature operates in a world of higher stakes and more refined tastes.
Gigi Vanoirbeek (Schoenaerts) belongs to a notorious Brussels gang responsible for a string of expertly executed, high-net-worth robberies. Under the cover of his luxury automobile import-export business he meets Bibi Delhany (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a gorgeous and glamorous race-car driver with roots more respectable than his own. Despite their wildly different backgrounds, this unlikely pair falls for each other, fast and hard. Gigi manages to shield Bibi from his illicit activities and begins to wonder what another life might look like. But already deep into the planning of his next heist with his all-too-eager associates, and with law enforcement hot on their heels, will it be too late?
At the centre of Roskam's storytelling is the profound passion his racer and his jailbird feel for each other. Schoenaerts and Exarchopoulos ooze with onscreen chemistry. Working with heavyweight French screenwriters Thomas S. Bidegain and Noé Debré, Roskam finds the humanity in his characters — seedy and sophisticated alike. With a brooding atmosphere aided by the stylish camerawork of cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis (whose work can also be seen at the Festival in I, Tonya), and employing a powerful structure that evokes a grand Shakespearean tragedy, there's nothing small about this story: it's all big stakes, big love, and big consequences.