Urban Cinefile
"I was going to commit suicide on his front lawn if he didn't."  -Kansas City's Mayor Cleaver's way of getting Robert Altman to shoot Kansas City in Kansas City
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday July 12, 2018 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Harry is a normal guy with a job telling salesmen how to do it better, a wife whoís left him, taking his two young daughters. He becomes morose and directionless. On a lonely road one rainy, depressed night, he runs over a dog who is accompanying an odd little man out on his own: Georges. Georges is mongoloid, and has run away from the nursing home. Harry tries to unload him on the lonely cop at the local police station, but Georges runs away again. He tries to take Georges home, but the home Georges wants to go to, his mumís, is occupied by strangers. Soon, Georges has insinuated himself into Harryís life, and his warmth has started to infect Harry. While at first he canít get rid of him, as he grows fond if him, he doesnít want to. The two men - with nothing in common - become inseparable. Georges changes Harryís life, and even returns a ray of sunshine into his shattered marriage. Georges is Godís work; he was created on the eighth day.

"With its magical Mexican crooner sitting on the bonnet of the Merc and the other leaps of imagination into the fantasy within Georgesí mind, The Eighth Day could have easily become either campily meaningless or drearily maudlin or even severely sentimental. Jaco Van Dormael has avoided all those traps with a sophisticated sense of balance - except perhaps for the final sequence, where the magical realism has had its way with him - and a penetratingly intelligent, unsentimental yet often moving script. Notwithstanding that minor lapse at the end, the film is enormously effective on several levels. Thatís why itís so hard to categorise it: itís a comedy but also a drama, and the love story is neither a gay nor a romantic one. On the most obvious level, it is a story of the redemptive power of love, not of the romantic kind, but the broadest, most human kind of love. On another level, it is an essay on the social dislocation we all suffer in western civilisation (so called) and how it impairs our judgement, how we are victims of our own impotence in the face of this structured civilisation. On yet another level, it is an attempt to find the godliness of nature, the miracle that Georges represents. You can read this strictly by the Christian symbols: the seven days of creation that is invoked (in a personalised version) by a voice over narrative that tops and tails the film, suggesting that Georges is somehow miraculous. Or you can read it simply by humanistic notions. But none of this enters your mind as you revel in this exceptional and not-as-simple-as-it-seems piece of Belgian cinema. Warmly recommended."
Andrew L. Urban

Email this article


CAST: Daniel Auteuil, Pascal Duquenne, Miou-Miou, Isabelle Sadoyan, Helene Roussel, Michele Maes, Laszlo Harmanti

PRODUCER: Philippe Godeau

DIRECTOR: Jaco Van Dormael

SCRIPT: Jaco Van Dormael

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Walther Vanden Ende

EDITOR: Susana Rossberg

MUSIC: Pierre Van Dormael


RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes



AWARDS: Best Actor (jointly) Cannes Film festival 1996: Daniel Auteuil, Pascal Duquenne

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018