Les Petits Frères

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For all the welcome developments in the French cinema's return to realism, not to mention its growing interest in the hitherto neglected immigrant inhabitants of the banlieux, the 'kids in the hood' saga is fast becoming a cliché, and Doillon, despite fine performances from his young cast, does little to avoid it. A 13-year-old girl, tired of abuse from her stepfather, leaves home with her pitbull to see a pal in the suburbs; soon four Arab boys trick her out of the dog, which is in turn taken away by their older brothers for dogfights. The film charts the girl's efforts to get the dog back, and the boys' deceits and crises of conscience, but the documentary tone never really allows Doillon to delve beneath the surface of gestures and social ritual. Well-meaning but trite and repetitive.

By: GA

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