Ricky

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Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ****

Seeing Ricky -- Francois Ozon’s mysterious little fable of an unusual baby and the family into which it comes -- a second time, I liked the film better than in my first encounter back in November of 2009 at BAM’s preview of new French films. Among the movie’s many delights in this age of multi-million-dollar special effects, is a creation so simple yet endearing and splendid: the special effect in question is just a baby. But what a baby.

The meaning that Ozon hopes to provide via this little wonder is another matter, and part of the movie's charm and weight comes from the fact that the writer/director leaves quite a bit of his message open-ended. Ricky is also a film of ideas: about religion (a new and "special" birth), homosexuality (a subject frequently touched on in Ozon's work, and here perhaps depicted as a different kind of "other"), the media (oh, those destructive bastards!), the family (Ricky serves each member of his rather well). Each aspect of the film works, even if not completely.

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But just as importantly Ozon, as usual, has gathered together a fine cast - led by Alexandra Lamy (who seems like a nice cross between Sandrine Kiberlain and Frances McDormand), the ubiquitous Sergi López (Solo Mia, Pan's Labyrinth), and a fine young actress making her screen debut, Mélusine Mayance, who plays Ricky's big sister. As Ricky, little Arthur Peyret (plus a few "doubles") is a beyond adorable, almost eerily perfect-looking baby. (And this is even before he does his...thing.)

To say much about the plot is to destroy some of the movie's charm and surprise. Ozon's film isn't incredibly profound, yet is great fun, even sometimes quite moving especially as it goes on. The filmmaker has never been interested in the ordinary or the expected. He goes elsewhere and, for all its surface appeal and delight, so does Ricky (both the character and the movie).

 

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