Comedy of Innocence
Two women. Isabella and Ariane jostle for Camille's affections...
Comédie de l’Innocence

dir Raoul Ruiz
scr Françoise Dumas, Raoul Ruiz
with Isabelle Huppert, Jeanne Balibar, Charles Berling, Nils Hugon, Edith Scob, Denis Podalydes, Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre
release UK 8.Mar.02
01/France 1h28

2½ out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E

Arthouse guru Ruiz is back with another elusive, indulgent French film (see also Time Regained), this time with a terrific psycho-thriller plot. On his 9th birthday, Camille (Hugon) starts acting a bit strange, calling his mother Ariane (Huppert) by her first name and saying his real mother lives somewhere else. Indulging him, Ariane goes off to the address he gives her and unleashes a chain of strange events involving Isabella (Balibar), whose recently deceased son would also be 9. Fantasy collides with reality in a very strange way as everyone tries to figure out who's crazy here.

Well, they all are! Yes, each character in this film displays seriously unhinged behaviour before the storyline gets to the end and unravels the mystery (very cleverly, I should add). And this is the best aspect of the film, as we try to figure out who is in touch with reality and who isn't. OK, so it's all otherworldly, as none of these creepy people act like human beings; Huppert gives another stony-faced yet oddly moving performance, while the much-more expressive Balibar is smiling then scowling, both funny and scary. Yet Ruiz directs the film with such an aloof style that we are never given a chance--the camera glides incessantly as characters wander around staring obliquely through each scene, background objects move around and major chunks of action are just missing, waiting to be filled in later. This confusing, lifeless direction leaves us out in the cold ... until a couple of surprisingly gripping twists in the tale at the very end, when we see what has really been happening all along. And why Ruiz calls this a movie about Don Juan's childhood.
themes, suspense cert PG 4.Mar.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "Silly, unsatisfying and pretentious with a completely ridiculous plot. In places the camerawork is good though there are too many 'filler' shots of trees and water etc. The music is rather too intrusive. I basically only liked it as much as I did because it was in French. If a British director tried to get away with this they would be laughed to scorn." --Chris Wright, Stonleigh 21.Jun.02
© 2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall