Sunday July 25, 2010

Ricky (Movie review), French – François Ozon

Posted by Karthik

rickyImagine…you are in a fancy restaurant with a massive spread of yummy food in front of you. Your favorite, say, a Kahlua Dessert, is in the corner. You love it so much that you usually go for it first! But, what you do would seem strange, because you do not reach for your favorite first…you sample many other uninteresting things. And then, after teasing yourself to hell…reach for the dessert…only to stop after 2 spoons.

François Ozon does precisely that in his 2009 film, Ricky.

I have seen only ‘Swimming Pool‘, from his repertoire, but the plot of Ricky was absolutely intriguing. I mean, what can be more intriguing/interesting than a film about a baby which sprouts wings and starts to fly?

The strange and almost fascinating thing about Ricky is that it treats the ‘flying baby’ plot with such callousness that I wonder how Ozon could resist the temptation.

The film is about so many other things – Ricky’s mom, Katie’s unusually flippant nature of her own life; her sudden, bathroom-sex with Paco, a complete stranger; her beautifully close relationship with her daughter Lisa…and so on.

Then there are those jump-cuts which scrape time massively…sometimes 10 months at a cut. Paco is seen joining Katie, one night, for a romp…and almost the next shot has Paco getting call at his factory about Katie’s delivery! The French are fast, I must add!

It’s this particular jump-cut that led me to conclude that Ozon wanted to get to the ‘flying baby’ part faster than what he had planned earlier.

The portions that indicate Ricky’s unique nature are the film’s best since they happen with no indication whatsoever. It is treated almost as if it is very normal. The wings themselves are less feathery initially and more like a bone extension – and these scenes make for a fascinating watch. The choice of the baby (actor) is fantastic and the effects are subtle, but brilliantly effective.

And, even though the moment when Katie leaves the thread/rope holding Ricky seems completely absurd, she explains it beautifully in a scene later…that she was enamored by how beautiful Ricky looked when he was flying! The figurative ‘letting go’ suddenly makes sense when you watch how the film ends.

The most interesting thing with the film is how Ozon seems to focus entirely on Lisa and her budding sibling rivalry with Ricky, than the miracle child itself and that in itself is an achievement. The sibling rivalry itself is treated very mildly though – there are no major high-points except for a brief one involving a pair of scissors. Perhaps the most telling scene is how the assembled set of journalists and Ricky’s parents run after a now-free Ricky, as he flies off, just after the media spectacle. Lisa is completely ignored, for obvious reason and Ozon resists even the mandatory shot of focusing on her forlorn face.

If the above paragraphs seem confusing to you – it is for a reason. I have written the above almost in the same way Ozon treats the film! I have mixed feelings towards the film – on one hand, Ozon does not focus or go overboard on the one amazing idea he has. And on the other, he muddles his script with many, seemingly irrelevant things, that the former (not going overboard on the ‘flying baby’ thingy) seems like a grave mistake, in hindsight.

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