Our Children was inspired by a real-life Belgian family tragedy in the late 1990s, big news over there. The rules on the value of children beyond these shores are very different, boys often more valuable than girls, ten million less Indians girls then there should be in the world. Boys produce dowries, girls don’t. We know more cot deaths than we are comfortable with are probably murder in the west but women are given the benefit of doubt in court so we don’t have to deal with unpalatable truths. Sometimes women crack from the pressure of young babies and being home alone. A screaming baby annoys everyone. We choose to blame the men in their lives or social services to lift that collective anxiety. We, as a society, have chosen women as the weaker sex and treat them that way in court through mitigation. A woman can use booze as a ubiquitous defense in court for a rape allegation whereas alcohol is the number one witness for the prosecution for men. The British police get overloaded with domestic abuse cases and so our cynical government increased prison sentences for domestic violence, knowing full well women would be less likely to press charges if the wage earner was likely to be locked up. That’s how we reduce sexual and abuse crime in the modern age. You only need look at Rotherham. It’s always been out of sight, out of mind the attitude. That is fundamentally wrong.
Our Children deals with that of the mentally trapped woman, where she has succumbed to alpha males to make the big decisions and mom is left at home with the kids and her career on the shelf. It explores race, sexuality and immigration in the marital mix, asking the question on just how much someone would compromise just to get married and accept financial security over happiness, and where that deceit may end up. An excellent cast brings us one of the most intense Benelux movies for while. This is painful stuff folks.
Attractive twenty something Belgium Teacher Murille (Émilie Dequenne) is in love with handsome twenty something Mounir (Tahar Rahim of ‘The Prophet’). They met at college in Brussels and plan to marry. Mounir is Moroccan and came to Belgium under the sponsorship of Niels André Pinget (Niels Arestrup) to study and then secure his citizenship, whom he decides to live with in Belgium. To save the young couple money they decide it’s ok if Murille moves into the flat with the doctor and Mounir to play happy families. It’s a strange set up, the aging doctor not wanting to lose the friendship of his young Moroccan friend, uncomfortably over-protective. People are talking back in his home village.
But kids are on the way and tension rises, the couple now married and the flat filling up. Murille no longer likes the arrangement and wants to leave with her husband and get their own place. He now works at Pinget’s surgery and The Doctor is not happy and still doesn’t want to let the kid go. A compromise is agreed with a bigger house rented by the doctor for them all to live in. With three little girls and still no boy in the family she becomes increasingly withdrawn with the situation and gives up her job to care for the kids and concede her independence. Her situation is not helped by her husband’s indifference to it, especially when he asks her feckless sister to marry Mounirs cousin Fatima (Raoui) for cash and a green card. It’s beginning to dawn on her that maybe she has made one compromise too far for an easy life and there is no way out.
This is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. As a psychological drama goes it’s subtle to say the least and when the final act comes its shocking. The people who know the real story from the news there will no doubt get more from it as I found it hard to identify with the performances in some aspects. But as it’s a true story it does ask a lot of questions on how much we would concede to have what we would call a happy life. We know some women marry into money and give up on love and it’s no big deal, as we know some men marry to simply please their parents and culture. Director Joachim Lafosse makes the film interesting by leaving it up to you to decide why each of the protagonists do what they do in the film to end up where they do. Is Mounir in a secret gay relationship with the doctor and has married for a green card? Is Murille going along with it she is unbalanced in some way and lost in the romance of it and the cheap rent? Or is she simply there to bare her husband a son and so status back in Morocco? It’s never made clear. The actual news story suggests she was unstable from a young age and simply exploited by a Moroccan family.
Its engaging stuff as you try to figure out why this true story was so big in Belgium and how will it end. We know women are far more likely to suffer from depression as they are often the ones most controlled and suppressed and so you could sympathies with that. I firmly believe that depression comes from your inability to make choices and so locked into your situation and so escape. Kids do that, why middle-class women tend to suffer a lot. Would you sacrifice your career for a man and kids? Post natal depression is exactly that. I have these kids to look after for the next 18 years while my partner is out there I the big wide world making money and probably bonking his secretary. I wouldn’t want to be a woman with the biological clock ticking.
If you're a fan of the BBC but you're into the documentary type programmes, then this channel will be right up your street! I love this channel, I also love the BBC (infact see my opinion on that too!). Im currently studying A-level physics, chemistry and biology. So some of the programmes the BBC Knowledge channel show really come in handy! Some of the programmes are really, really interesting. An example is that of "Guide to the Solar System" - that series was basically what it sounds like it was! It covered different aspects week-by-week. Some of the things covered were also really detailed, and informative. Unfortunately this programme isnt on at the moment - and to make matters more annoying, I missed the last in the series episode!! Of course, BBC Knowledge isnt entirely based upon Space. There are tonnes of different topics shown on BBC Knowledge, its just physics, chemistry, biology and space happen to be my favourites! The only disadvantages Ive found with BBC Knowledge is the fact that it is seriously addictive, which is not a good thing when you've got lots of homework to do and exams coming up! Definately for all people wanting to increase their brain capacity!
This channel BBC Knowledge is one of a range of the New Digital Channels available from the BBC. Some old documentaries are shown and there is new programming added to supplement this channel. The channel itself has some strange times especially at the weekend. Again you have most probably seen this programming on BBC1 and BBC2 so like me I think you would only watch this channel if there were nothing on it. You will not find much info at all on this channel I dont think the BBC Press dept has much interest in promoting it.
Presumably, the hidden agenda here is to wait until sufficient of the population have had their old TV sets dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age, then move all those obscure but worthy Open University and Schools programmes across from their valuable slots on BBC2. I first watched BBC Knowledge when they had their Dunkirk Day, which was an interesting run of documentaries about that period of the war. There was hardly any original programming, but the BBC has plenty of material in its 40 year archives that deserves another outing.
BBC Knowledge is one of the new digital channels from the BBC which basically repackages old documentaries with some new material thrown in for good measure. It sounds rubbish but you can actually discover some real gems that were obviously buried in late night BBC2 or opposite 'Eastenders' 1st time round. Each day has a theme such as history, the arts, business and they then show 3 or 4 programmes related to the topic on a cycle throughout the day. It is also one of the 1st channels to start to utilise the digital technology by letting you find out further info via your remote control whilst watching. My only gripes with the channel is that it isn't on long at the weekend - which is when I have time to watch it - and it can be hard to find out when programmes are on as most newspapers and TV mags don't carry much info on the channel. It won't become a channel you watch all the time but you might just see a great show you missed 1st time