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Joel Mayward

La Fille Inconnue / The Unknown Girl (2016)

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5 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

FWIW, the Hebrew root word for "keeper" is shamar, which has the various meanings of keeping an eye on, guarding, watching over, being careful or caring for, etc., such as "The  Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." So, while the greater sin involved in Genesis 3 is murder (just like the greater tragedy in in The Unknown Girl is the unnecessary death of the unknown girl), there is something in the story of Cain and Abel about responsibility for one's actions towards caring for others. Cain is being sarcastic or snarky in his response to God--am *I* responsible for people, o deity who is supposed to be responsible for everything?--but one can draw the conclusion that, yes, being responsible for others' well-being and flourishing is, in fact, part of what it means to truly be human.

That's the definition of keeper I was taught and always assumed for that passage, not someone who keeps and controls animals, and the passage was used to teach we have a social responsibility to care for others, and this film seemed to be a continuous series of failures in that regard.

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Joel Mayward wrote:
: Cain is being sarcastic or snarky in his response to God--am *I* responsible for people, o deity who is supposed to be responsible for everything?--but one can draw the conclusion that, yes, being responsible for others' well-being and flourishing is, in fact, part of what it means to truly be human.

Is that how shamar is used, though? (The word is used in 440 verses, apparently, and I haven't got time to go through them all now. But most uses of the word on the first page at that site seem to revolve around "keeping the commandments" and things of that ilk, though Genesis 2:15 features God telling Adam to "keep" the Garden of Eden, and Genesis 30:31 has Jacob offering to "keep" Laban's flock, and Exodus 21:29 talks about "keeping" an ox to ensure that it doesn't pose a danger to anyone, etc.)

FWIW, back when Obama was running for president and he said something like "the Bible tells us to be our brother's keeper", I asked a listserv populated by Canadian theologians if the Bible actually says this, and I made the point I made in this thread about "brother's keeper" being a sarcastic, disparaging expression within the biblical context, and at least one of the scholars on that listserv told me I was correct (and I don't believe any of them told me I was wrong).

So the point is not that Cain is asking am *I* my brother's keeper, but that he is asking am I my brother's *keeper*? Which, in the context of a story in which Cain has just murdered his brother partly because his brother was a keeper of animals (and Cain was not) is not insignificant, I think.

Evan C wrote:
: . . . the passage was used to teach we have a social responsibility to care for others . . .

Wow. Seriously? Genesis 4 was taught that way? Society practically doesn't even *exist* yet in that passage -- there's just Adam, his wife, and their two sons. The point of that passage, surely, is not that Cain should have *taken care* of Abel, who was obviously grown-up and capable enough to look after flocks, but that you shouldn't *murder* anyone.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Major plot spoilers! (for all Dardenne movies):

I've been pondering recently how many of the Dardenne movies feature a character trying unsuccessfully to commit suicide...and what, if anything, that signifies.

Certainly there is this one, Rosetta, Two Days, One Night (though that could be argued as an impulse and not a thorough atttempt).

Am I missing any? It's been awhile since I watched The Son, La Promesse, L'Enfant, or Lorna.

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12 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Am I missing any? It's been awhile since I watched The Son, La Promesse, L'Enfant, or Lorna.

While all of these films, as well as The Kid with a Bike, directly address human mortality and feature a character contemplating/committing murder, I don't believe any others have the kind of act you suggested above. But it's an interesting question you raise. And one can imagine numerous characters at least contemplating such an act internally, even if they never fully attempt it.

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I did a 3 Screenshots for The Unknown Girl.
It contains major spoilers. 
 

Quote

 

The first screenshot, from the opening scene of the movie, situates Jenny behind a patient; she is looking at his back, not his face. Face-to-face interaction is mostly mediated (through the camera) or denied early in the movie. Jenny is not indifferent to her patients. But there is a difference between listening and seeing. The presence of cell phones, alarms, and interruptions is pervasive in this film as well as in Two Days, One Night. Although they are powerful tools, they tend to interrupt human contact. Ironically, Jenny fails to respond to the buzzer because she, like many of us, has become habituated to hearing it as a perfunctory intrusion rather than an alarm. Because she cannot see the woman sounding the buzzer, she cannot interpret the alarm. The doctor is quite attentive to even minute signals — when those making them are physically present. When confronting an intern, she asks him to stop looking at a computer screen and look at her. When treating a sick boy plagued by guilt, she notices changes in his pulse and later asks him to turn off a game.


 

 

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14 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

I did a 3 Screenshots for The Unknown Girl.

This is really good stuff, Ken. I rewatched all of the Dardennes' films this fall, and I think your observation rings true: "If you are going to watch Dardenne movies, you will need to get accustomed to staring at people’s back." Formally, I think the Dardennes are doing something a bit paradoxical, in that they are figuratively and literally depicting the significance--even the transcendence--involved in human face-to-face interactions while also respecting the alterity of their characters. So, we almost never get POV shots in their films (apart from some scenes in La promesse where Igor looks through a peephole in the wall into Assita's room), as that might suggest we've "invaded" their interior world, something we can never truly do. But we do follow the characters very closely while still allowing each character his/her personal space.

Your observation about where Jenny will be in 5-10 years is interesting, because I think the Dardennes' endings are purposefully ambiguous, inviting the audience to imagine where the story might go, or how they (the audience) would react within the story. I imagined Jenny not as burned out, but as a faithful doctor within that community, akin to the doctor who preceded her that we briefly meet. What will happen to Sandra from Two Days, One Night in 5 years? Does she experience financial ruin and further depression, or something else? What of Cyril and Samantha? What about Olivier and Francis after leaving the lumber yard--how are they to go back home now? Perhaps the most unknown futures are with Lorna (Lorna's Silence) and with Igor (La promesse), where it's nearly impossible to determine what will become of them (at least for me). But we do know that something has changed within them. It's not quite a Rorschach test, but I do think these films are intentionally "unfinished" and tease the audience into active interpretive and imaginative thought.

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