Helmer Jean-Louis Milesi, better known as French director Robert Guediguian’s scripter, uses himself and his 2-year-old son Lino in “Lino,” a tale of a grieving man left with his g.f.’s kid and no instructions. Blurring the line between reality and fiction, pic fails to sustain the illusion once an improbable hint of violence is introduced. Nice compositions and expert framing help work a slowly unfolding, intermittent charm, but Milesi never shakes that “quickie experiment” feel, making this strictly a fest item.
Opening scenes reveal a warm, playful relationship between a grandfather type (Milesi) and Lino, who’s just entering the early verbal stage. Though the man is called “papa” by the kid, he was actually the live-in lover of Lino’s mom, who recently died from a drug overdose. Trying to offload Lino on the boy’s real family is proves difficult, as the father’s identity is uncertain and no provisions were made. The introduction of a gun into the mix adds a gratuitous tension out of keeping with the characters, and sits uncomfortably with the obvious attachment between father and son. D.p. Jerome Peyrebrune (“The Page Turner”) expertly handles his DV chores.