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Today, Camille turns nine. He had sworn that on his 9th birthday he would show his parents the videos he was shooting on the side-the tail of a cat scampering away, a window, and a veiled woman's face - an intriguing picture... Later that day, Camille's mother, Ariane, meets up with her son in the park. The boys appears perturbed. He is leaning against a tree, eyes cast down. He says that now he wants to return to his "real home" and his "real mother." Written by
Probabilities of fiction, as the chasms of the mind
With this one Ruiz redeems himself well for some of the more hollow stuff he produced in the 90's. It is, as so many times before, a fiction about possible fictions as assembled in the imaginative mind. About various figments of the one mind enacting their roles in a fantasy unfolding as the unfathomable echoes bubbling in some far surface of reality.
At first, it seems to be about a child intuitively guided to look for his true face, the true motherly source from which we are all outsourced at birth and to which the biological mother is only the affectionate mask. The kid is miraculously drawn to another mother, tied to the first by the strange coincidence so favored by surrealists.
But it soon turns out that we are not with the child in this, rather with the discarded face of the mother. The woman drawn to her reflected image in the eyes of the kid and made whole in it. Two women as one, each the other's surrogate mother, each the surrogate daughter in turn.
And then it moves again, starting with a dinner scene that reverses the one that begins the film. Now the characters have switched places, the room is dark. A film-within guides us further, footage captured by the kid in his strolls around the park. There is an imaginary friend who turns out to be real, and a madhouse in the countryhouse where only those admitted can leave at will.
Then the mysterious ending suddenly seems to pull everything back into the surface of reality (we can never be sure though). Was after all the kid only the mother's helpful aid (like her brother, Serge, inside the fantasy) in recovering the husband who is away on business (imagined as an inner child, susceptible to allure of the female figure) from the imaginary hands of a deceitfull mistress?
It's a fascinating ploy and the overall construct, though occasionally thin, resonates with the illusionary reality of the mind. How we weave portentous narrative around us with us center stage in the myth, what masks we choose to hide behind or let fall. Lots of Oedipus, transported to suburban France as surreal essay into the conundrums of fiction.
The device is film noir. The execution is French. Not a bad thing to have, aye?
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