I found this short film rather disturbing. In a good way, I mean. Director Remi Allier really did a great job capturing the chaos, anger and fear involved in Little Hands.
The story is told through the eyes of the young boy who is kidnapped by a worker at his dad’s factory. At the French version of the Oscars, the Cesars, the short film was awarded Best Short Film this year.
Management at a chemical products factory in France has announced to the workers that they are closing down. Many will be out of work. The employees are upset and angry. A lot of yelling and jostling is happening inside the factory. Tempers are frayed with some being more angry than others.
The manager (Steve Driesen – Van Gogh in Love) of the factory is having to deal with the aftermath. He is trying to calm things down, but not have much success as a few in the crowd seem intent on riling things up.
For some reason his wife (Sandrine Blancke – Soeur Sourire) and two-year-old son Leo (Emile Moulron Lejeune – first film) are at the factory. He has to physically shield them to get them out of the building. She goes to the car and straps the toddler into his car seat. While she returns to the building for some reason, Bruno (Jan Hammernecker – The Family), one of the angrier workers, seizes his opportunity. He grabs Leo and makes a run for it.
Bruno runs off to a different part of the factory and calls the manager indicating that he has kidnapped his son. He wants his job back and this is how he thinks he is going to accomplish that. The police are called in. Next, he is off into the woods running with a screaming, crying toddler in his arms.
Most of the 15 minute run time of the film is pretty high adrenaline, as you can imagine. Uber realistic with an obviously terrorized 2-year-old, so much so that I was often wondering how they filmed it without his parents stepping in or fearing that they irreparably traumatized the kid.
That being said, tension is off the charts as soon as Leo is nabbed. Not much dialogue is needed from that point forward. Most of the acting comes via the faces of Leo and Bruno. You see that Bruno is even questioning his methods as he spends some time with the youngster. Special props to the camerawork as it is up close and personal allowing you to see all the emotions registered on the faces of those involved; it helps to tell the story.
Point of the film is showing how quickly things can escalate and when they do how our decisions are affected. It also touches upon how behaviour can be affected by which social strata you belong to.
Little Hands has been screen at more than 150 festival around the world. It was originally released in 2017.