Father Richard Berry
Mother Brigitte Rouan
Marie Julia Maraval
Daniel Alexis Tomassian
Nadia Noemie Kocher
Cheesemaker Roger Jendly
Cheesemaker’s Wife Christine Rossigneux
Pitched somewhere between a murderous fairy tale and a dysfunctional family drama, “The Lambs” is a watchable, unsettling third feature by occasional picmaker Marcel Schupbach that’s held aloft by a meaty performance from French actor Richard Berry and excellent casting of young teens Julia Maraval and Alexis Tomassian as the titular telepaths. Foreign tube sales beckon.
Berry plays a wild, extremely incorrect father whose mantra is, “The weak have problems; the strong have solutions,” dragging son Daniel (Tomassian) and daughter Marie (Maraval) out of their beds for nocturnal boxing sessions and teaching them self-dependence at all costs. While Dad is romancing the tarty Nadia (Noemie Kocher), Mom is slowly croaking from some illness.
The inseparable kids, who can also read each other’s thoughts, decide enough is enough when the mother dies and father starts throwing the furniture out the window. Escaping into the hills, they’re first taken in by some over-friendly cheesemakers; later, when a guy puts the make on Marie at a disco, tragedy looms as the siblings protect their charmed state.
Schupbach tells the tale, adapted from a slim 1992 novel by Ania Carmel, in a plain, non-judgmental style, leaving the dark undercurrents to speak for themselves. In line with the film’s ironic tone, Berry’s father emerges more as a charming scumbag than a heavy villain, and the creepy kids (dubbed “my lambs” by Dad) as almost Cocteau-ish sexual innocents detached from the real world.
Tech credits are OK, and extracts from Bach’s Mass in B Minor add an irreal dimension.