Racer & the Jailbird (2017): Belgium, France, Netherlands

Reviewed by Margaux Pfau. Viewed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival 2018.

Racer & the Jailbird, directed by Michael Roskam (Bullhead, the Drop) is a romantic drama about a race driver, Bibi (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and a bank robber, Gino (Matthias Schoenaerts). They are both deeply and crazy in love, but Gino is being secretive about what he does in his life, and Bibi is suspicious about him but prefers not knowing about anything, because deep inside she knows that it’s wrong. Gino can’t stop doing robberies and the more he gets into it, the more Bibi is suffering because she and her surroundings are starting to realize what is really going on in Gino’s life. Throughout the whole movie, remains a serious question: How far can they go too far?

From the beginning of the movie, Roskam lets us know that it is not gonna be a beautiful and perfect love story. Gino appears directly as a mysterious and secretive boy, always finding an excuse to avoid questions about himself and Bibi seems to understand very quickly that something is wrong which put the audience in a weird position. Feeling that she’s putting herself in a bad situation makes yourself want to escape from it. And it is the best part of this movie, the viewer knows everything that is going on in Gino’s life, unlike Bibi who just sees what Gino wants her to see. But the more the story goes on, the less you want to escape because you’re starting to get attached to their love story and let’s be honest, they are really beautiful together. But the more you’re getting attached, the more dramatic it gets.

It is hard not to spoil the movie so I will just say that one of the first quote from the movie when Gino tells Bibi: “I am a gangster and I rob banks and you?” and she answers “I’m immortal” is not only beautiful takes all its meaning at the end.

Lastly, I would say that from my opinion, even if the performances of the actors were great, the story might have gone too far and appeared to me to be a little bit too much. But I have to conceive that unlike lots of romantic movies it is not a beautiful and perfect love story that ends up being just silly and boring.



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