10 August 2000 | lori.m
Aux Yeux du monde's main protagonist, Bruno, is an extremely misguided male who, at the age of twenty-two, has no aim in life and still lives with his mum. He is a joke amongst his peers and is respected by no-one. The film establishes all this in about five minutes and then it's off into the main gist of the plot...
Bruno makes it known to us that he is a nutcase by using his gun to hi-jack a schoolbus containing twenty-two children. The children's teacher(played by Kristin Scott-Thomas) objects strongly to this crazy act but is silenced when Bruno puts a bullet in the bus' roof. It turns out that Bruno's reason behind the hi-jacking is, simply enough, to impress his girlfriend. Which is admittedly ridiculous, but there's more development on that score throughout the film.
One thing you must get straight about this film is to not to have any misconceptions about it. It isn't an action-packed thrill ride akin to Keanu Reeves' "Speed", the main focus here is character interaction, at which this film excels. Although relationships get off to a(literally) bumpy start, things change and soon enough, Bruno is able to peacefully converse with the teacher and also develops a strong relationship with the children. The male bus driver is more stubborn though, and it is only near to the end that we see he has a liking for Bruno.
We get to know Bruno's girlfriend, Juliette, over a series of conversations he has with her during occasional stops at telephone boxes. At first, the hi-jacking has the desired effect on her and she finds her excitement hard to conceal, but its not long before she starts having doubts. Bruno is disheartened by this, but his love for her drives him forward to Spain, where she lives.
It soon becomes evident that Bruno has another motive, besides Juliette, for the hi-jacking: he feels a desperate need to prove himself. With an average height and non-muscular build, he feels depressingly inferior. His self-deluding(they don't really believe he'll kill them) domination over the children and two adults provides him with the sense of superiority he so dearly craves. Whether he'll escape the clutches of the police and get into Spain with his new-found masculinity, however, is a matter left to the film's ending.
It's surprising that, at one hundred minutes, you feel like you've been watching the film for a whole lot longer. This is to do with the fact that you've got to know the characters on such a deep level. The children are only there to be cute but the personalities of the bus driver, teacher, Juliette and Bruno are all thoroughly explored. And for that, the film leaves you feeling wholly satisfied.
Rating: 4 out of 5