Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

REVIEW | Flight of Fancy: François Ozon’s “Ricky”

By Michael Koresky | Indiewire December 16, 2009 at 3:00AM

“Ricky,” the latest film by François Ozon to receive release in the United States, is so chock full of tonal and generic shifts that it makes for a handy little guide to its French director’s scattershot career. Opening with a punishing long-take close-up of young mother Katie (Alexandra Lamy) crying to an off-screen police officer that she and her child have been abandoned by her husband, the film is introduced as domestic melodrama, not unexpected territory for the once upstart Ozon (as seen in his “5x2,” “Under the Sand”). Soon, through many temporal elisions, we’re watching Katie living alone with her now seven-year-old daughter, Lisa (Mélusine Mayance), who feels unwanted and ignored; then meeting a new lover, Paco (Sergi Lopez, finally not playing the heavy after “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “With a Friend Like Harry . . .”), on the floor of her factory job and banging him in a work bathroom stall (shades of sex farce take us into more “Water Drops on Burning Rocks” and “Sitcom” territory). And in the seeming blink of an eye she invites Paco to move in with her and Lisa, soon after which Katie is pregnant with her second child, Ricky.
0

“Ricky,” the latest film by François Ozon to receive release in the United States, is so chock full of tonal and generic shifts that it makes for a handy little guide to its French director’s scattershot career. Opening with a punishing long-take close-up of young mother Katie (Alexandra Lamy) crying to an off-screen police officer that she and her child have been abandoned by her husband, the film is introduced as domestic melodrama, not unexpected territory for the once upstart Ozon (as seen in his “5x2,” “Under the Sand”). Soon, through many temporal elisions, we’re watching Katie living alone with her now seven-year-old daughter, Lisa (Mélusine Mayance), who feels unwanted and ignored; then meeting a new lover, Paco (Sergi Lopez, finally not playing the heavy after “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “With a Friend Like Harry . . .”), on the floor of her factory job and banging him in a work bathroom stall (shades of sex farce take us into more “Water Drops on Burning Rocks” and “Sitcom” territory). And in the seeming blink of an eye she invites Paco to move in with her and Lisa, soon after which Katie is pregnant with her second child, Ricky.

Thus far Ozon has already transitioned out of the working-class desperation the film initially presents and has attained a lighter tone, a story of redemptive romance, perhaps. Yet Paco’s ambiguous and erratic behavior and male-pattern subsumed anger soon disrupt the idyll. Brown-purplish welts appear on Ricky’s back, below his shoulder blades; seeking a rational explanation, Katie assumes Paco is physically abusing the infant (one might recall Ozon’s breakthrough “See the Sea,” queasily) and casts him out of the house. Ozon has rushed through all this preliminary material dexterously yet head-spinningly, and his pacing is such that when Ricky starts to act mysteriously, appearing on the tops of high cabinets, and his back bruises begin to sprout talons, we may feel like we’ve already seen about four different movies.

Whether Ricky is a miracle or a mere aberration (angel or freak, one might more crassly put it) is beside the point. As in many of Ozon’s films, the question has more to do with how the “normal” world reacts to such abnormality, and more specifically, how Ricky’s family copes with the unassailable facts of his being. Hence the realistic rather than fairy-tale approach to this magical material makes a lot of sense, aesthetically. The suburban housing complex where Katie and Lisa lives is a mundane, grimy place, yet not objectified as such; the details of their daily routines (Lisa waking up her mother and making her breakfast; the family casually checking their lottery numbers in front of the television) are as crucial to the fabric of the film as Ricky’s special talents. The easier route for this fanciful story would have been to more overtly sugarcoat it, through brighter music, candy-colored cinematography, snappy editing, et cetera; instead Ozon leaves “Ricky” firmly situated in a shabby here and now.

Though the end of the film focuses on Katie’s emotional regeneration following a seemingly shattering loss (and Lamy is consistently good at rolling with this plot’s strange ebbs and flows), the final protagonist of the film might actually be young Lisa, played by Mayance with disarming naturalism. After all, Lisa, in her desperate feelings of neglect (her mother leaves her alone at night when going on her first date with Paco; later her room is transformed into the nursery), might be the one who conjured Ricky’s mutant form—in an early scene she stares obsessively at the young baby from the dinner table while chomping on a chicken wing.

“Ricky” is metaphorically sound (talk about empty nest syndrome), but occasionally it’s more than a little clunky: during Ricky’s awkward flights, the poor kid just hangs in his invisible harness and strings—there’s no motion or elegance to his movements. Still, once the film’s central high concept becomes clear, Ozon keeps things swift and sweet, never prolonging his tale’s whimsy or overplaying its dark underbelly. Ozon has always been interested in redefining family, whether through naughty provocation (the domestic bedlam of “Sitcom”; the twisted take on Hansel and Gretel in “Criminal Lovers”) or subtler subversion (the backwards anti-marriage drama “5x2”; the consideration of gay parenthood in the labored “Time to Leave”). “Ricky” continues this tradition with its off-kilter view of the needs and compromises of family, even if its ultimate message, though layered with a touching ambiguity, is nearly Spielbergian in its themes of hopeful reconciliation.

[An indieWIRE review from Reverse Shot.]

[Michael Koresky is co-founder and editor of Reverse Shot and staff writer and an editor at the Criterion Collection.]

This article is related to: In Theaters, Ricky






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More