Le Jeune Ahmed
Panorama | Special Presentations
Through such masterworks as The Son, The Kid With a Bike, and Two Days, One Night, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne established themselves as two of the most sensitive, empathetic, and nuanced of all European filmmakers. Consequently, the premiere of this new powder-keg drama - which went on to win Best Director at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival - led many viewers to debate exactly what to make of this much darker turn the brothers have taken.
On the surface of things, 13-year-old Ahmed (Idir Ben Addi) of the title seems like most boys his age; he’s frustrated with his family, annoyed by school, and anxious about girls. So how could this otherwise average teenager go from being a strong student, loving son, and compassionate sibling to someone who attempts to kill his teacher on account of the dubious instruction of a radicalized imam? That question reverberates throughout this searing psychological study, and the Dardennes - who borrow liberally from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment - are far more interested in exploring the particulars of this one individual than in making a sweeping universal political statement. Thanks to such masterful incisiveness, Young Ahmed is unlikely to be forgotten soon.
"Young Ahmed might not have answers, but it asks pertinent questions and makes acute observations… It’s a wise and sensitive contribution to a timely debate." - Dave Calhoun, Time Out
Best Director, Cannes 19