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The Unknown Girl isn't quite up to the standards of the Dardenne brothers' best work, but remains a well-acted effort that pays poignant -- albeit limited -- dividends.
All Critics (90)
| Top Critics (17)
| Fresh (64)
| Rotten (26)
The last thing one expected was for the Belgian Dardenne brothers to dote on a murder mystery, particularly one involving a medico turned amateur sleuth that's fraught with coincidence like so much of what's already out there.
The question that looms large here, lingering long after the closing credits, is whether, despite our human need for forgiveness, absolution is ever truly possible.
[Adèlle] Haenel's deadpan performance makes this a tough sell, leaving only the common mechanisms of a suspense plot to move the drama forward.
"The Unknown Girl" is an imperfect but absorbing addition to the canon, a carefully plotted thriller of conscience in which Jenny spends most of the movie patiently and persistently atoning for her mistake.
Every Dardennes movie is worth seeing, and The Unknown Girl has all kinds of gripping undercurrents.
An odd fusion of an earnest socially conscious drama and a B-movie mystery programmer that never quite comes together despite a strong performance from Adele Haenel at its center.
In the case of The Unknown Girl, it's as if we're interning for Dr. Jenny Davin.
It's a very good film, but it is challenging, with a slant toward pessimism that may make it a bit harder to warm up to than The Kid With a Bike or Two Days, One Night.
...the Dardennes' perplexing and out-of-character obligation to plot denies what could've been another feather in the brothers' cap.
The Unknown Girl is both one of [the Dardennes'] most nihilistic and hopeful efforts.
If this is a "minor" Dardennes film, which was the critical reception coming from Cannes in 2016, it is nonetheless a masterful piece of art. If only all filmmakers could produce "minor" works like this one.
Shot in bleached-out blues and greys in an overcast, sombre landscape that never seems to lighten, the tone is melancholy, low key yet also as suspenseful and compelling as a whodunnit.
The Dardennes offer us another engaging story shot in their usual naturalistic style to show us things that happen in the lives of common people, even though this time what happens seems a bit twistier than necessary and holds a lesser impact than their best works.
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