Racer and the Jailbird


Contemporary World Cinema | 2018 | 130 minutes | Rated R

Stranger Says:

She races cars. He pulls heists. You can’t get much more high concept than that. Flemish director Michaël Roskam (Bullhead) has never exactly been a model of restraint, but here he goes for broke, with a propulsive first half that culminates in a wonderfully garish act of highway robbery. More’s the bummer then that the second hour slows way down, transforming into a maudlin prison movie that largely squelches out the outrageous chemistry between the stars (Matthias Schoenaerts and Adèle Exarchopoulos). Still, while it lasts, the fun is very fun.

SIFF Says:

Actors Adèle Exarchopoulos and Matthias Schoenaerts let the erotic sparks fly in this adrenaline-soaked love story of two daredevils—one a professional racecar driver, the other a bank robber—trying to make their relationship work, though it is built upon deceit and lawlessness. When Gigi (Schoenaerts) first sees Bibi (Exarchopoulos), he is as impressed with her curves on the track as he is with the curves under her bodysuit. They act upon their mutual attraction but keep each other at arm’s length—the no-nonsense Bibi tells him “no flowers” for their first date, while Gigi conceals his criminal history and won’t even invite her to his home. But Gigi’s ruse doesn’t last long when everything goes south during the next intricate heist, which director Michaël R. Roskam and cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis stage in an audacious, heart-pounding action sequence on a Belgian highway involving an armored truck, automatic weapons, and a shipping container tumbling from a bridge. True to the film’s title, Gigi is caught and sent to prison as the film shifts gears, but Bibi refuses to give up on him, even when more complications threaten to tear them apart. Edited in three distinct acts, the film is filled with lies, betrayals, and unexpected plot twists that will keep viewers guessing until the final screech of the tires.

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Film Credits
Michaël Roskam
Matthias Schoenaerts, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Eric de Staercke, Jean-Benoît Ugeux, Nabil Missoumi, Thomas Coumans, Nathalie Van Tongelen, Kerem Can, Sam Louwyck
SIFF 2018