Thomas and Alfred were born around the same time; a fire in the nursery had nurses scrambling to save the newborns. Because he felt that he deserved Alfred's good fortune at being born into... See full summary »


Jaco Van Dormael


Didier De Neck (collaborator), Pascal Lonhay (collaborator) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 16 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Michel Bouquet ... Old Thomas / Voice of Adult Thomas
Jo De Backer Jo De Backer ... Adult Thomas
Thomas Godet Thomas Godet ... Child Thomas
Gisela Uhlen ... Old Evelyne
Mireille Perrier Mireille Perrier ... Voice of old Evelyne / Adult Evelyne
Sandrine Blancke Sandrine Blancke ... Alice
Peter Böhlke Peter Böhlke ... Old Alfred
Michel Robin ... Old Alfred (voice)
Didier Ferney Didier Ferney ... Adult Alfred
Hugo Harold-Harrison ... Child Alfred
Fabienne Loriaux Fabienne Loriaux ... Thomas' Mother
Klaus Schindler Klaus Schindler ... Thomas' Father
Patrick Waleffe Patrick Waleffe ... Voice of Thomas' Father / Official
Pascal Duquenne ... Adult Cèlestin
François Toumarkine François Toumarkine ... Adult Cèlestin (voice)


Thomas and Alfred were born around the same time; a fire in the nursery had nurses scrambling to save the newborns. Because he felt that he deserved Alfred's good fortune at being born into a wealthy family, Thomas conceives the idea that he and Alfred were switched at birth, and he can't help seeing that his unhappiness should be Alfred's, from the loss of his sister to his inability to have a relationship with the woman Evelyne. So, as his life is ending, he formulates a plan of revenge against his bitter enemy, his lifetime adversary, the man who stole his existence. Written by Gary Dickerson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence and sensuality (nudity) | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


As some of the locations were rather remote (particularly the unguarded railway crossing at Sint Amands), much of the technical crew and equipment was carried on the train. See more »


References Vertigo (1958) See more »


Music by Charles Trenet
Lyrics by Charles Trenet
Performed by Charles Trenet
Societe EMI France
(c) Edition Vianelly
See more »

User Reviews

a clever brilliant movie
30 December 2002 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

Thomas, an elderly man lives in an old people's home. He's always been persuaded that he has been inverted with another baby called Alfred, during a fire at the maternity hospital. It means that he should have been Alfred, a wealthy and rough boy, cherished by his parents who fell in love with Thomas' sister, Alice. When he's a grown-up, he'll become a brilliant businessman whereas Thomas, him, will only live a dull and mournful life: his father will die early, he'll become a poor surveyor and when he feels love for a woman called Evelyne who looks like his late sister, Alice, he'll feel betrayed because Evelyne is Alfred's wife! His only way to escape from a destiny that is not the right one is to fancy himself as a secret agent (Toto le héros). So, in the old people's home, Thomas's got a sole idea: killing the "usurpator". Will he succeed in? For his first film, Jaco Van Doarmel showed cleverness, originality and talent. The movie is very close to Etienne Chatiliez's movie: "life is a long quiet river" but in this movie, everybody knew that the two babies had been voluntarily inverted and in Doarmel's film, Thomas remains the only one to be persuaed of being inverted. One of the feats of the film is that it never asserts this hypothesis. We see the fire but we don't know if the intervertion really happened... The movie works like a puzzle as Thomas's thoughts and memories pass by and it links several characters, in different places, at different times. It enables to reconstruct Thomas' bitter life. In parallel, you never lose the thread of the plot (Thomas aims at avenging himself against the one who stole his life). The film abounds in visual brainwaves and is very well served by a watertight screenplay. Moreover, there's an amazing contrast between Thomas's bitter life and Alfred's one (which would be Thomas's real life) that is cherished and successful. But, in the end, Alfred isn't as dreadful as he seems, because I noticed that when he was old, he seemed upset. He's probably marked by Evelyne's departure and don't forget that he's tracked down by terrorists. Always right and agile, the movie, sometimes, succeeds in creating touching moments( when Thomas discovers that Thomas's wife is Evelyne, the woman he loves). At last, Michel Bouquet is excellent in his role of tormented and disillusioned man. Like "eraserhead" by David Lynch, in another register, "Toto le héros" rank among the movies that you must see rather than telling it because it can be seen on several levels.

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Belgium | France | Germany



Release Date:

19 June 1991 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Totò the Hero See more »


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Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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