Co-written and directed by Rémi Allier, Little Hands (Les Petites Mains) won a César Award for Best Short Film, and it has recently been added to the Oscars shortlist. In just 15 minutes, Little Hands manages to underscore the implications of being forced out of a job. It spotlights what that stress does to the workers, the managers, and peoples’ state of mind. But more profoundly, Little Hands documents a child abduction from the child’s perspective. However, this child is unable to cognize the threat or to acknowledge why this man kidnapped him.
The opening scene traps us within a room of vociferous and acrid factory employees who are the latest victims of unemployment. However, the focus stays on 2-year-old Leo (Emile Moulron Lejeune), who is the son of the manager who just broadcasted the news that the factory is closing. Leo’s confused, calling out for his father, but the bedlam overpowers all of Leo’s cries for a parental embrace. Moments later, Leo’s mother sees it’s best to get the babe out of there. She takes the child away and leaves Leo in the car for a brief moment, which is when radical factory worker Bruno (Jan Hammenecker) abducts Leo. Bruno thinks kidnapping the manager’s son will be an efficient method to trigger negotiations, but no one, not even the other factory employees, is on board.
“Bruno thinks kidnapping the manager’s son will be an efficient method to trigger negotiations…”
Seen chiefly through the eyes of Leo, you watch the harebrained and clamorous behavior of adults from a less cynical pair of eyes. Brimming with innocence and warmth, Leo doesn’t judge or recognize right from wrong. For us, when Leo is snatched up by Bruno, we can’t help but keep our jaded life goggles on and expect the worse of this dire scenario. That said, Emile Moulron Lejeune’s Leo is capable of disarming the adults around him, including Bruno. Rémi Allier coaxes a stirring performance from Emile Moulron Lejeune that’ll stick with you long after the credits roll. Innocence is always associated with children, yet Emile Moulron Lejeune’s performance is the crux of all purity and optimism.
"…justifies the use of shaky cam."