When suave, hunky and confident gangster Gigi (Matthias Schoenaerts) meets beautiful, strong-willed racecar driver Bibi (Adèle Exarchopoulos) at the racetrack it’s love at first sight in Bullhead and The Drop director Michaël R Roskam’s gangland romance Racer And The Jailbird.

Ostensibly an importer of luxury cars, Gigi’s real business is bank robbery and as Gigi and Bibi’s relationship grows so do her suspicions about the amount of time he spends with his raucous group of friends. But when Gigi’s “one last job” goes spectacularly and violently wrong, Bibi is forced to decide whether or not to stand by her man…

Slick, tough, gorgeous to look at and boasting a surprisingly soft centre (much like it’s leading man), Racer And The Jailbird holds few surprises, it’s central romance as doomed as it’s final heist but, just because you’ve seen it all before doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy watching it’s charismatic leads spark off one another as they fall in love against a backdrop of the Brussels underworld. Reteaming with Roskam for a third time, Schoenaerts is as magnetic as always, bringing a gentleness and vulnerability to his soulful bad boy while in Blue Is The Warmest Colour’s Exarchopoulos he’s finally found a co-star that isn’t eclipsed by his presence; her Bibi is spiky and sexy, a strong, self-reliant woman in love who’s definitely the stronger, more dominant partner of the pairing.

Roskam stages the films muscular action scenes well with an idiosyncratic eye for absurd detail – during one robbery the smooth Schoenaerts asks a terrified bank teller if she’s more comfortable being robbed in French or Flemish – and the film is as handsome and moody as it’s leads, Racer And The Jailbird is at it’s best charting Bibi and Gigi’s giddy love story. Schoenaerts and Exarchopoulos are a couple with more chemistry than a periodic table and their scenes together are suffused with a raw, hungry eroticism and a swooning, all-consuming romanticism. This is a couple we want to see triumph against the odds even as the grit and tragedy of the final act threatens to swamp the film.

While the wheels may come off long before the credits roll as the film skids into melodrama, Racer And The Jailbird is a sentimental, romantic thriller that may just be the sexiest film you’ll see all Summer.

Movie Review: Racer And The Jailbird (La Fidele)
3.5Overall Score
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