"an interesting film that brilliantly focuses on an obsessive and almost toxic love"
Directed by Michaël R. Roskman, Racer and the Jailbird is a crime drama story about undying love and ultimate sacrifice. Set in Brussel, the film follows the love affair between Gigi, a gangster specialised in bank robberies, and Bibi, a racer from a rich family.
Coming from two different backgrounds, their worlds collide and a passionate and tumultuous love story is born. They are both devoted to one another, however Gigi’s risky lifestyle is bound to catch up with him and, when one bank robbery goes wrong and he is sent to jail, Bibi still plans to build a family with him against all odds.
Born from a French and Belgian collaboration, Racer and the Jailbird is a drama thriller that explores love at its extremes. Divided in two parts, the first one narrated from Gigi’s point of view and the other one from Bibi's, the film can be considered like a modern and slightly different take on Romeo and Juliet’s type of love.
Gigi and Bibi come from two different worlds, however, their love is ignited by lust and passion from the first time they set eyes on each other. Their undoing is Gigi’s risky business and not even their devotion can secure them a happy ending.
Both of them have the chance to tell their side of the story, however the only aspect that is clear throughout the movie is their obsessive love for one another that pushes both of them to do the unthinkable. Although the plot can be quite promising, the execution falls slightly flat to the audience.
The two main characters seem two-dimensional. The audience is partially introduced through small flashback to Gigi’s childhood. However, it is not clear how he became involved in bank robberies to begin with. On the other hand, Bibi seems intent to start living only once Gigi takes an interest in her. Of her life we only know that she is a racer and she comes from a rich family.
Even their love story seems to grow out of the blue, with little to known context. The only aspect that is clear is their passion, their devotion and desperate need to be loved. Both Matthias Schoenaerts and Adèle Exarchopoulos don’t have the chance to showcase their talent, however, they deeply connect to their characters and their obsessive love.
While there are a few love scenes between the main characters, it is not through their affectionate moments that their emotions shine through. On the contrary, it is while they are separated that it is more clear that they are both ready to give their lives to be together until the end and both actors bring to the screen the perfect interpretation of their characters’ blind devotion.
Since the film classifies as a thriller drama, there are several action scenes, as well as the dark almost noir colours used throughout, that convey that feeling of danger and unease. During these shots, the camera follows closely the two main actors with close ups on their facial expressions, obstructing the rest of the scene from the audience and thus making it more intense.
However, apart from a secondary character development that surprises the audience, there are not many other elements that keep you glued to the screen and, unfortunately, the climax and resolution technique that is essential in thrillers is almost absent.
Although Racer and the Jailbird is an interesting film that brilliantly focuses on an obsessive and almost toxic love between two complicated characters, in trying to dramatise and make the plot appealing to a more diverse audience, the execution of the film fails to bring to the screen a film that completely engages with the viewers.