Le Fidèle (Racer and the Jailbird) is the third feature from Flemish director Michael Roskam (Bullhead, The Drop). The crime drama co-stars the sensual French actress Adèle Exarchopoulos, known for her breakthrough performance in Blue is the Warmest Color, and Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead, Rust and Bone, The Danish Girl), Belgium’s biggest star who is fast becoming a household name in Hollywood. This steamy duo is electrifying on the big screen and together they bring a palpable sexual chemistry to the tragic relationship at its center. Schoenaerts, as always, is a fearlessly profound actor, who doesn’t shy away from showcasing his animalistic talents. Exarchopoulos doesn’t disappoint either, giving a performance of intense heat and strength, fighting for love against all odds.
When Gino (Schoenaerts) meets racing driver Bénédicte (Exarchopoulos), it’s love at first sight: passionate, unconditional and fiery. But Gino has a secret, the kind of secret that can endanger your life and the lives of those around you. “Gigi” and “Bibi” will have to fight against fate, reason and their own weaknesses to save their love. Michael R. Roskam, whose striking debut was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film category, calls Racer and the Jailbird a fictional tale of love and crime, of desire and failure. A love tragedy, or better still, an “Amour Noir”. “I consider it to be the second part of my crime trilogy. Each part is freely based on a particular moment in Belgian criminal history. For Bullhead, my source of inspiration was the hormone mafia. This time, I draw inspiration from notorious Brussels gangs and the equally by adrenaline driven world of auto racing. The foundation of this story is the love between a man and a woman and the impossibility of actualizing their relationship. Their love is thwarted not only by their characters and origins, but also by the blows that fate deals them.”
Roskam filmed Racer and the Jailbird on Belgian soil. He co-wrote the script with the French scriptwriter Thomas Bidegain (writer of Jaques Audiard’s Un Prophète an Rust and Bone). Roskam has put his own stamp on his films, his vision has a menacing authenticity and holds a unique, biting power: you know you’re in his film, as nothing else around quite looks or feels like this. Fasten your seatbelts, Racer powers up on speed and pushes one’s adrenaline, excelling in some thrilling breathtaking action scenes. The concluding sequence ends with a dazzling drive at dawn through a lonesome Brussels, shot by cinematographer and longtime DP Nicolas Karakatsanis! It most certainly is a spectacle to watch! “It’s love, love and love! Love will prevail!” says Matthias Schoenaerts. “And in the world we live in today, I strongly believe that this key ingredient is more important than anything. Would you fight for something that is already lost? Well yes, if you love it you will!”
Racer and the Jailbird was presented at the 74th Venice International Film Festival 2017 and is Belgium’s official Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film. Neon is the distributor for the USA.