I know someone who is a big fan of Bullhead (2011) and he has recommended this to me for ages. I’ve still not seen it but I liked the look of Matthias Schoenarts and bank robberies with some race cars thrown into the mix so I watched it. Afterward, I learned the director Michale R. Roskam has tied the two stories together. In an interview with the director, the idea for the story in Racer and The Jailbird came about because he wanted a backstory for one of the characters Steve, in Bullhead. Both films were inspired by the gangster scene in Belgium in the 1990’s concentrating on the relationships between the gangsters and their wives.
“When both stories are put together, they embody the very concept of love, or at least its more tragic side.”
What’s Racer and the Jailbird About?
Set against the background of a brutal criminal gang in Brussels. A tragic love story between Gigi (Matthias Schoenaerts), a high-flying gangster, and Bibi (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a young racing driver with very upper-class roots.
While Gigi attempts to break away from his illicit history, two things stand in the couple’s way to a happy life together: an unrelenting mob hungry for another heist, and the cops that are closing in on them.
How Was It?
I thought this film was going to have high-level action, fast cars, and brutality. Sure there is a bit of that here and there but it underpins the story.
Gigi is a gangster and Bibi races expensive cars. The intensity that is Gigi and Bibi’s love get nailed in this film. The first half of the movie is everything you want in a romance story. Bank robberies performed with skill and finesse under the nose of the very people he is attempting to win over. His new girlfriend and her father fall under his spell as an all-around nice guy. There is something underfoot that no one can put their finger on. His gang passes to look like his mates. In small instances where we see they’re a little untrusting, conniving and way more brutal than anything seen in Gigi.
This is not the type of film I normally go for. But when I get the opportunity to watch something special, out of the ordinary and before everybody else, I take it. There are a lot of relationship metaphors in this film, lots of things to reflect back on afterward. The gangster side of the story is present but fades into the background of the love story between the two main characters.
In movies I have seen that include groups of criminals, their gangs, and their families, it’s the actions of the strongest force, the gangs, that drive the story. What I enjoyed about this film was that these factors are the least important in this film. It’s never a matter of “Will Gigi stop doing crime for Bibi so they can live happily ever after?” Whether or not that happens, you will have to see for yourself.
Although the run-time is a little long, if you are a fan of Bullhead, this is a must-see to add to the story thus far.
I’m not saying this is a feel-good movie. In fact, it’s much the opposite. Racer and the Jailbird certainly don’t travel where I thought it was going to go.
I give Racer and the Jailbird 3.5 black dogs out of 5.
“Would you fight for something that is already lost?”