The Unknown Girl
November 5, 2017 · Knoxville Museum of Art · 2:00 p.m.
The new film from acclaimed directors the Dardenne brothers (Two Days, One Night) is a searing saga of guilt and redemption. One evening after work hours, Jenny (Adèle Haenel), a young doctor, allows the door buzzer at the small clinic where she works to go unanswered. It’s only later that she learns that the person ringing was an unidentified African woman found dead shortly after by the side of a road.
Consumed by the thought that she is to blame, Jenny embarks on an obsessive crusade to discover who the anonymous woman was and to see to it that she is not forgotten. Shot through with low-key suspense and the heart-stopping realism that has become the directors’ trademark, The Unknown Girl is both a gripping mystery and a profoundly human moral tale.
“Jenny’s selfless dedication to helping others makes her less a main character than a trusted guide to yet another Dardennes gallery of beleaguered characters who struggle to maintain their dignity and do the right thing in a world that often makes that next to impossible. As always in the brothers’ films, that world is short on frills and physical comforts, but it’s also beautiful and full of small graces, especially as seen through the loving eyes of a radical empath like the good doctor Jenny.” — Brooklyn Magazine
About the Filmmakers
Belgian brothers Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne have written, produced, and directed more than 50 films together, beginning with their documentary Le chant du rossignol in 1978. In 1996, their first narrative feature, La Promesse, introduced them to a wider audience, and the string of films they’ve made since have reshaped contemporary cinema. Their use of documentary-style camerawork to tell moral tales with a political bent is now ubiquitous but few other filmmakers can match their craftsmanship or wisdom.