×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Son of Two Mothers or the Comedy of Innocence

One of the more bankable entries screened at Venice this year, Raul Ruiz's "Son of Two Mothers or the Comedy of Innocence" is an eerie tale of a boy who suddenly decides his real mother is another woman. Pic is a clever adaptation of a 1929 Italian novel by "magic realist" writer Massimo Bontempelli.

With:
Ariane - Isabelle Huppert Isabella - Jeanne Balibar Serge - Charles Berling Camille - Nils Hugon Laurence - Edith Scob Pierre - Denis Podalydes Helene - Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre

One of the more bankable entries screened at Venice this year, Raul Ruiz’s “Son of Two Mothers or the Comedy of Innocence” is an eerie tale of a boy who suddenly decides his real mother is another woman. Pic is a clever adaptation of a 1929 Italian novel by “magic realist” writer Massimo Bontempelli. The arty title could easily be amended by distribs aiming to reach broader audiences beyond the director’s usual following.

In its concern with doubles and the irrational, pic is on the same wavelength as Ruiz’s 1997 English-language thriller, “Shattered Image,” but more successful in combining his refined interests with a tense storyline able to intrigue mainstream viewers. Overtones of “The Sixth Sense” won’t hurt in attracting customers, though here the story revolves more around star Isabelle Huppert than the little boy.

Nine-year-old Camille (Nils Hugon) is the only child of a bourgeois Parisian couple (Huppert and Denis Podalydes), living in a nice big house full of the mother’s abstract paintings. Feeling neglected by his busy parents, he invents an imaginary friend to play with when he’s not in the park with his distracted baby-sitter (Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre). One day, looking strangely disturbed, he announces to mom Ariane that he wants to return to his “real” mother, who lives on the other side of town. He even takes her there, where the mystery deepens. He seems to know the apartment intimately. Ariane is even more perturbed when he throws his arms around Isabella (Jeanne Balibar), who insists he’s her lost son Paul, drowned in the Seine two years before. A clear case of reincarnation — or is it?

With nerves of steel, Ariane plays along with what she sees as Camille’s whim, allowing Isabella to come live at their house. Balibar’s elfish face hides a strongly seductive personality, and before long the whole family has fallen under her influence. With the father out of town, Ariane’s psychiatrist brother, Serge (Charles Berling), tries to take his place as a father figure for the lonely, spoiled and clever Camille. There are skeletons in the closet, and the pretty baby-sitter seems like an apprentice witch. Meanwhile Camille, the boy with two mothers, tapes everything on his camcorder.

Ruiz, co-scripting with Francoise Dumas, draws out the story’s ambiguous, inexplicable dimension, aided by the disquieting perfs of Huppert and Balibar. Objects assume mysterious importance: Isabella’s apartment contains an African sculpture of a woman with two heads, while Ariane displays a lithograph of the judgment of Solomon, in which the real mother of a baby is revealed as the woman willing to give up the child to save his life. Most viewers will be relieved to find much explained in the end, while others will appreciate pic’s lingering taste of existential mystery.

Son of Two Mothers or the Comedy of Innocence

France

Production: A MACT Prods./TF1 Intl./Les Films du Camelia production. (International sales: TF1 Intl., Paris.) Produced by Martine and Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre. Directed by Raul Ruiz. Screenplay, Francoise Dumas, Ruiz, based on the novel by Massimo Bontempelli.

Crew: Camera (color), Jacques Bouquin; editor, Mireille Hannon; music, Jorge Arriagada; art director, Bruno Beauge; sound (Dolby SRD Digital), Jean-Claude Brisson. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (competing), Sept. 1, 2000. Running time: 102 MIN.

With: Ariane - Isabelle Huppert Isabella - Jeanne Balibar Serge - Charles Berling Camille - Nils Hugon Laurence - Edith Scob Pierre - Denis Podalydes Helene - Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre

More Film

  • Zach Galifianakis Jerry Seinfeld Netflix

    Film News Roundup: Zach Galifianakis' 'Between Two Ferns: The Movie' Coming to Netflix

    In today’s film news roundup, “Between Two Ferns: The Movie” is unveiled, “Friedkin Uncut” gets a fall release and Sony Classics buys “The Traitor” at Cannes. MOVIE RELEASES Netflix has set a Sept. 20 release date for Zach Galifianakis’ “Between Two Ferns: The Movie,” based on his 11-year-old talk show. Galifianakis made the announcement during [...]

  • Romanian Crime-Thriller 'The Whistlers' Bought for

    Romanian Crime-Thriller 'The Whistlers' Bought for North America

    Magnolia Pictures has bought North American rights to the Romanian crime thriller “The Whistlers” following its premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, the film stars Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Antonio Buil, Agustí Villaronga, Sabin Tambrea, Julieta Szonyi and George Pisterneanu. Magnolia is eyeing a theatrical [...]

  • Naomi Scott Talks Rebooting Princess Jasmine

    'Aladdin': Naomi Scott on Why Her Princess Jasmine Needed Nasim Pedrad's New Character

    Call Naomi Scott the queen of the reboot – or at least, the princess. The 26-year-old actress is taking on the role of Princess Jasmine in Disney’s live-action remake of “Aladdin,” but it’s not her first time jumping into a role that’s already been well-established. Audiences may recognize Scott from 2017’s “Power Rangers” update, where [...]

  • Moby Natalie Portman

    Moby Accuses Natalie Portman of Lying as the Two Spar Over Dating Claims

    In what’s become a he said/she said spat in multiple mediums, Moby, the elder statesman of electronic music, is now accusing actress Natalie Portman of lying and pleading to those on social media for his safety as “physical threats from complete strangers” emerge. To recap: this month, Moby released a new book, “Then It All [...]

  • A QUIET PLACE Emily Blunt

    'A Quiet Place' Sequel Moves Ahead Two Months to March 2020

    Paramount Pictures has moved its sequel to “A Quiet Place” ahead by two months from May 15 to March 20, 2020. John Krasinski is returning to direct the still-untitled movie with Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe reprising their roles. Cillian Murphy is joining the cast. “A Quiet Place” grossed $340 million at the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content