Although I shouldn't like this mystery thriller with ghostly subscript because it's implausible, the characters don't react like real human beings,they all behave like people locked in their own fantasies,they have no normal emotions.The film if shot in England would be ridiculous and collapse like a pack of cards.I did like it.Raoul Ruiz is suitably enigmatic in his interview,giving very little away.He suggests that Camille's behaviour is inexplicable,he mentions the cruelty of innocence,seing him as a `child king',representing the childhood of Don Juan(???).I had seen and liked his film `Time Regained' on Proust.So I gave it a try.The father is mostly absent.
All the characters are purely mental beings.Based on `The Boy with Two Mothers' by Massimo Bontempelli,a surrealist friend of de Chirico. The house of Ariane (Huppert)and partner is a character in this complex,subtle drama.The parent's and grand-parents'possessions and belongings,family heirlooms are in the basement.There are suggestions of incest in the past,strange relationships in the present.Arianne herself is a designer and artist whose pictures are on the walls and her sculptures round about.Although she is a loving mother,she appears a bit detached at times.Her son is often looked after by a nanny,Helene,who takes him out.The nanny herself is odd, capricious,is having an affair with Serge(Bering) Ariane's brother,handing Camille over to a substitute minder,while she pursues it.Serge is a psychiatrist,who lives there on an upper floor.
Having said that Camille,decides on his 9th birthday,he wants to go to his `real mum'shome',calling his mother `Ariane'.She is taken aback, but plays along with him.Goes to an apartment on the far side of Paris to meet Isabella(Jeanne Balibar),whose own son Paul ,born the same time as Camille,drowned 2 years ago.Arianne panics helplessly,when Camille answering as `Paul',treats Isabella as his mother.There is great tension between the two competing mothers.But Arianne,beaten,invites Isabella to live with her,having been like Camille,bewitched.A picture of the Song of Solomon is placed centrally to point out the dilemma of Ariane.Camille whiles his time with a digital video camera,to film his surroundings.He makes film montage where he extracts from the narrative of events,his own private symbolism.Arianne,is outwardly stoical,inwardly neurotically tired.You feel like telling her to get a grip and discipline Camille,who seems to manipulate everyone too freely.Isabella is infuriatingly charming,smiles gnomically,seems to have a strange hold on Camille.Provides something missing.
Camille whispers to a friend,Alex,who seems to follow him in the wings everywhere.Serge gets Isabella into an asylum where he works, having failed to get answers from Camille.She's obviously disturbed.Camille and Isabella go missing simultaneously.Alex hands Camille's video cassettes over to Ariane.She learns what really happened to make Camille adopt Isabella as his mother.The video images like Ariadne's thread lead Ariane to the barge with Serge,to find a relieved Camille,grown weary like a child of this game.The film hints at the dysfunctionality of all families and the illegitimacy of parent-child relationships.Ariane flirts with Camille as he films her,at other times crying,suggesting a lover's relationship.This film will appeal to those who liked The Innocents or The Sixth Sense.Are the adults the real children with their own toys?Deceptive surfaces,thrilling depths,an air of mystery.Film for Ruiz,an impassive filter for emotions,tells the essential truth.