Le Huitième Jour (The Eight Day) is a French-Belgian-British film directed and written by Jaco Van Domael. It released in 1996.
Harry is a lonely businessman. After his wife left him, he gets alienated from his children, leaving him totally dedicated to his work. Working 24/7 hasn’t given much opportunities to build up social relationships, making him socially isolated. All this will change when he meets Georges, an adult with Down’s Syndrome. Georges, who lives from day to day, will change Harry’s way of living and thinking. The movie shows how two people with opposite lifestyles and backgrounds still can be inseparable.
The two leading roles are played by Daniel Auteuil ( who plays Harry ) and Pascal Duquenne ( who plays Georges). Pascal Duquenne has Down’s Syndrome in real life , won a prize at the prestigious festival of Cannes alongside his friend and co-actor Daniel Auteil. The film itself was selected for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards but didn’t make the cut in the final 4 nominations.
With this film Jaco Van Domael has tried to show the life of people with Down’s Syndrome. We see how their goals in life don’t really differ from ours; they want to fall in love, find a job and have kids. The director wanted to point out that these people just want to fit in like the others. One of the best scenes illustrating this is when Georges and Harry are eating in a restaurant. Georges starts flirting with the pretty waitress, at first the interest comes from both ways. It is only when Georges shows his eyes that the waitress backs out.
This film is unique, it clearly stands out from the ones we’re generally given. Le huitième jour will get to your feelings, making you feel sad at times but has an overall beautiful message.