You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mondo

This charming, childlike fable from the man behind "Latcho Drom" could reach an even wider audience than the Gypsy film did, given proper arthouse handling. Full of mythic twists and gently obscure symbols, pic will begin its domestic commercial life in New York City in April. Title, by way of a popular French novel, belongs to 11-year-old boy who drifts through the Mediterranean sights in and around Nice. A true citizen of the world, Mondo (Romanian newcomer Ovidiu Balan) isn't tied to any family, or even close friends, as he inquisitively explores the people and places of the lovely resort town. Along the way, he does form tentative bonds with a few special souls, such as a middle-aged baker who gives him fresh buns, a young woman singer, a weary fisherman dreaming of far shores, a mailman who invents letters to him --- even if he is illiterate --- and an old tramp who carries white doves in his leather suitcase. (The last is played by white-bearded Jerry Smith, a displaced Scot whom helmer Tony Gatlif discovered while scouting his pic; this near-70-year-old hobo has since become something of a tourist attraction.)

With:
With: Ovidiu Balan (Mondo), Pierrette Fesch, Philippe Petit, Catherine Brun, Schahla Aalam, Jerry Smith, Maurice Maurin, Ange Gobbi, Jean Ferrier.

Mondo’s most intense connection is with an elderly woman (Ange Gobbi) of Jewish and Vietnamese background. This cultured, lonely traveler invites him to share her hillside villa, but he eventually gets his usual wanderlust — just as dull city officials decide to rid the spotless town of all outsiders, such as stray dogs, foreigners and orphans. The absence of this big-eyed child, whose smile is brighter than any moon, immediately hits the townspeople, who walk around in an inexplicable daze, their joie de vivre suddenly chilled.

To dwell on precise plot turns is to belabor all the wrong points about “Mondo.” It’s a story made of lovingly crafted moments, some involving tender or confused interactions between humans, some as simple and arresting as discarded oranges bobbing in a sky-blue cove. Pic recalls earlier era of “The Red Balloon” as well as stylized quality of soft-spoken Iranian films like “The Runner.” A minority of fest auds have found Gatlif’s pic slow and meandering. To the rest, it’s a rare example of uncluttered magic, aided by unfailingly lush (but uncliched) lensing and a world-music score that dips into tunes from all over.

Most memorably, “Mondo” benefits from the unmistakably natural performance of young Balan, a boy whose guileless radiance mirrors the wonder at life we all start out with.

Mondo

FRENCH

Production: A Shadow Distribution release (U.S.) of a KG Prods. production, in association with Canal Plus. (International sales: Shadow Distribution, Waterville, Maine; World Film Marketing, Paris.) Produced by Michele Ray-Gravas. Directed, written by Tony Gatlif, based on the novel by Jean-Marie Le Clezio.

Crew: Camera, Eric Guichard; editor, Nicole Berckmans; music, Alain Weber; production design, Denis Mercier; sound, Philippe Richard, Fabien Krzyzanovski; assistant director, Alexandre Gavras. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival, Oct. 15, 1996. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: With: Ovidiu Balan (Mondo), Pierrette Fesch, Philippe Petit, Catherine Brun, Schahla Aalam, Jerry Smith, Maurice Maurin, Ange Gobbi, Jean Ferrier.

More Film

  • Jamie Bell Bernie Taupin

    Jamie Bell in Talks to Play Bernie Taupin in Elton John Biopic 'Rocketman' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mondo’s most intense connection is with an elderly woman (Ange Gobbi) of Jewish and Vietnamese background. This cultured, lonely traveler invites him to share her hillside villa, but he eventually gets his usual wanderlust — just as dull city officials decide to rid the spotless town of all outsiders, such as stray dogs, foreigners and […]

  • Ben Robson

    'Animal Kingdom' Star Ben Robson Joins Civil War Drama 'Emperor'

    Mondo’s most intense connection is with an elderly woman (Ange Gobbi) of Jewish and Vietnamese background. This cultured, lonely traveler invites him to share her hillside villa, but he eventually gets his usual wanderlust — just as dull city officials decide to rid the spotless town of all outsiders, such as stray dogs, foreigners and […]

  • James Maslow

    James Maslow to Star in World War II Action Movie 'Wolf Hound'

    Mondo’s most intense connection is with an elderly woman (Ange Gobbi) of Jewish and Vietnamese background. This cultured, lonely traveler invites him to share her hillside villa, but he eventually gets his usual wanderlust — just as dull city officials decide to rid the spotless town of all outsiders, such as stray dogs, foreigners and […]

  • Talent Management Firm Bohemia Group Opens

    Talent Management Firm Bohemia Opens Berlin Office

    Mondo’s most intense connection is with an elderly woman (Ange Gobbi) of Jewish and Vietnamese background. This cultured, lonely traveler invites him to share her hillside villa, but he eventually gets his usual wanderlust — just as dull city officials decide to rid the spotless town of all outsiders, such as stray dogs, foreigners and […]

  • Jeremy Irons-Jack Huston Comedy 'An Actor

    Jeremy Irons-Jack Huston Comedy 'An Actor Prepares' Bought by Gravitas (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mondo’s most intense connection is with an elderly woman (Ange Gobbi) of Jewish and Vietnamese background. This cultured, lonely traveler invites him to share her hillside villa, but he eventually gets his usual wanderlust — just as dull city officials decide to rid the spotless town of all outsiders, such as stray dogs, foreigners and […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content