×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ricky

Its eponymous protag may sprout wings, but "Ricky" never really takes flight.

With:
With: Alexandra Lamy, Sergi Lopez, Melusine Mayance, Arthur Peyret, Andre Wilms, Jean-Claude Bolle-Reddat.

Its eponymous protag may sprout wings, but Francois Ozon’s latest, “Ricky,” never really takes flight. Baffling tale of a baby who literally can’t wait to fly the parental nest starts off as a kitchen-sink drama before moving into an uneasy mix of comedy and the grotesque, with character development replaced by airborne action in the second half. Some might detect an elaborate parenthood metaphor, but most auds will simply shrug their shoulders. “Ricky” opens in Gaul Feb. 11 on the heels of its Berlinale preem, but is unlikely to make the trek across the Atlantic.

Though inspired, like Ozon’s previous pic, “Angel,” by an English literary work — in this case a Rose Tremain short story — “Ricky” has more in common with some of the helmer’s earliest efforts, including his feature debut, “Sitcom,” in which the arrival of a freaky newcomer (a rat) throws a family into disarray.

On a council estate in the Seine-et-Marne region, just east of Paris, single mom and factory worker Katie (Alexandra Lamy) has to be dragged out of bed by 7-year-old daughter Lisa (Melusine Mayance), who has effectively taken the role of the mother hen. Things change when Katie falls for a Spanish co-worker, Paco (Sergi Lopez), and they have a love child, Ricky (Arthur Peyret).

But suspicious marks on the baby’s back lead to false accusations, and Paco temporarily departs the household before the marks grow into wings. Screenplay toys with concepts of leaving, losing and letting go in a family context, but the ideas are upstaged by the freakshow aspects of pic’s second half. Ozon plays some of the practical problems the wings pose for the tot and his mother for laughs –what should he wear? how to keep an eye on him when he’s likely to fly off? — for laughs, but not without a disturbing undercurrent. Absent feathers, the wings give the baby an alien appearance rather than an angelic one.

But strangely enough, the parents never seem particularly fazed by their offspring’s extra appendages. Because Ozon doesn’t develop his characters once Ricky shows his true nature, the movie’s slightly overcooked working-class realism quickly morphs into a grotesque — and admittedly funny — story of a mutant baby. There’s almost no exploration of the psychological impact on Katie or the others, and a media frenzy that descends on the family likewise feels perfunctory. The film’s two halves feel almost mutually exclusive.

Lamy, better known in Gaul for her comedic roles, acquits herself admirably in a more dramatic turn (especially early on), and Lopez, so scary in “Pan’s Labyrinth,” is a warm yet temperamental presence here. But both thesps suffer from extremely underwritten parts. Little ones playing Lisa and Ricky are appropriately reactive and cute.

Jeanne Lapoirie’s lensing is functional, and the effects work is alright in context of pic’s modest aspirations. Score by Phillipe Rombi — one of the few men on the crew list — adds some fairy-tale gloss.

Popular on Variety

Ricky

France

Production: A Le Pacte release of a Eurowide and Foz presentation and production, in association with Teodora Film. (International sales: Le Pacte, Paris.) Produced by Claudie Ossard, Chris Bolzli. Co-producers, Cesare Petrillo, Vieri Razzini. Directed by Francois Ozon. Screenplay, Ozon, Emmanuele Bernheim, inspired by the short story "Moth" by Rose Tremain.

Crew: Camera (color), Jeanne Lapoirie; editor, Muriel Breton; music, Philippe Rombi; production designer, Katia Wyszkop; costume designer, Pascaline Chavanne; sound, (Dolby Digital/DTS), Brigitte Taillandier; visual effects supervisor, Georges Bouchelaghem; visual effects, BUF; special effects supervisor, Pascal Molina; assistant director, Hubert Barbin; casting, Sarah Teper, Leila Fournier. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 5, 2009. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: With: Alexandra Lamy, Sergi Lopez, Melusine Mayance, Arthur Peyret, Andre Wilms, Jean-Claude Bolle-Reddat.

More Film

  • Incitement

    'Incitement' Wins Ophir Award for Best Picture, Becomes Israel's Oscar Submission

    “Incitement” was the best-picture winner at Israel’s Ophir Awards on Sunday night, automatically becoming the country’s choice to vie for the international feature film Oscar. The winning film, a drama about the period leading up to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist in 1995, had its global premiere at [...]

  • LargoAI

    LargoAI Wins Inaugural San Sebastian Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge

    SAN SEBASTIAN  —  Swiss artificial intelligence and data analytics company LargoAI won Sunday’s first-ever San Sebastian Film Festival Zinemaldia & Technology Startup Challenge. LargoAI’s software provides data-driven filmmaking strategies, similar to those used by major VOD platforms which aggregate and often horde their own user-driven data. From early in the screenwriting process through development and [...]

  • MARIANA-RONDÓN-MARITÉ-UGÁS

    FiGa Snags 'Contactado,' By The Team Behind San Sebastian Winner 'Pelo Malo' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s FiGa Films has picked up worldwide sales rights to “Contactado,” the upcoming feature by Sudaca Films’ Marité Ugás and Mariana Rondón, the duo behind San Sebastian 2013 Golden Shell winner, “Pelo Malo.” The Sudaca partners are attending San Sebastian to pitch Rondón-helmed project “Zafari” at the 8th Europe-Latin American Co-production Forum. Directed by [...]

  • Brad Pitt stars in “Ad Astra”.

    'Ad Astra' Lifts Above Competition at International Box Office With $26 Million

    Though “Ad Astra” was overthrown by the Crawley family at the domestic box office, Brad Pitt’s astronaut drama reigned supreme at the international box office. Directed by James Gray, “Ad Astra” launched overseas with $26 million from 44 foreign markets. The $80 million sci-fi epic debuted in North America with $19.2 million, bringing global box [...]

  • hugh jackman tiff bad education

    Toronto's Biggest Deal Goes to HBO: A Sign of the Future? (Column)

    When it comes to how we’ll be watching movies — or, at least, watching serious dramas for adults — in the future, here are two stark and timely contradictory facts: 1. Last week, as the Toronto International Film Festival drew to a close, a deal that had been in the rumor stage for a while [...]

  • 'Talking About Trees' Helmer Suhaib Gasmelbari

    'Talking About Trees' Director Suhaib Gasmelbari Receives Variety MENA Award

    Suhaib Gasmelbari, whose Sudanese documentary “Talking About Trees” premiered in the Berlinale’s Panorama section, received the Variety Middle East and North Africa Region Talent Award Saturday at the El Gouna Film Festival in Egypt from festival director Intishal Al Timimi. Variety critic Jay Weissberg, who selected the honoree, said that it is not usual that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content