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Belgian director wows critics

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Venice (Reuters): Young Belgian director Joachim Lafosse wowed critics at the Venice Film Festival with Private Property, a dark family story centred on a woman and her 20-something twin sons. Isabelle Huppert, one of France's most talented performers who won a career award in Venice last year, vividly portrays a middle-aged divorcee planning to sell the family home to set up a guest-house and make a fresh start with her life. But Jeremie and Yannick Renier, who are brothers in real life but not twins, almost steal the show with their interpretation of the two sons who, opposed to the house sale, turn against their mother and eventually against each other.

Private Property -- Nue Propriete in French -- is the third film for Lafosse who, at 31, is the youngest director competing for the top prize in Venice this year. ''This is the story of a family collapsing,'' Lafosse, who himself has a twin brother, told a news conference yesterday. ''It was very important to have true brothers playing in the film because they bring a real credibility to it. You cannot make up that kind of relationship,'' he said after the film was well received at a press screening. The Renier brothers, working on the same set for the first time, said they had found the experience strange and at the same time natural.

''When Joachim got in touch with us, we were split between the desire to work together and the fear of being involved in the same project,'' Yannick Renier told reporters. ''But had we not been brothers, we would have needed to spend years together to be able to create the complicity between the two characters that you see in the film,'' he said. Yannick, 31, is mainly a theatre actor, while the younger Jeremie is best known for his interpretation of the lead character in ''L'Enfant'' (The Child), a film by another pair of Belgian brothers -- Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. ''L'Enfant'' won the top prize in Cannes last year. Huppert, busy with a new theatre role, did not show up on the Lido. Lafosse said the film needed a strong-willed and solid actress like her to balance the aggressive and spoiled twins.

''This is a family where nobody has ever set any boundaries, where there are no limits. The twins are in their 20s, but they behave like teenagers, they refuse to grow up and assume their responsibilities,'' Lafosse said. ''When I was test-screening for the lead female role, I asked Jeremie and Yannick to be particularly cruel. All the actresses who came went away distressed. Only Isabelle could face up to these guys,'' he said.

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