Katie (Alexandra Lamy) works at a chemical factory, while her 7-year-old Lisa (Melusine Mayance) is precociously self-sufficient. Lisa's dad having long since disappeared, the two have grown into a close-knit family unit - until Katie falls for rough-hewn charmer Paco (Sergi Lopez), when their domestic life is irrevocably altered. Lisa's sense of exclusion heightens when the cherubic Ricky (Arthur Peyret) appears, especially when it becomes apparent what a "special" baby he is.
Review by Louise Keller:
While there may be some sensational elements about this tale from François Ozon, it is essentially an engrossing love story with a twist. A single mother meets a man, they fall in love and have a baby. But that is not the end of the story; it is only the beginning. The delights of the film are in the revelations so I will try not to spoil it for you. Ozon's ability to make us believe pretty much anything is proof of the pudding here; we are grounded in the tough reality in which Alexandra Lamy's Katie tries to cope with her predicament. Strong performances and wonderful direction allows us to fly into Ricky's world, where the importance of acceptance, love and family are paramount.
When we first meet Lamy's Katie, she is enquiring about the possibility of having her baby institutionalised. The baby's father has flown the coop, seven year old Lisa (Mélusine Mayance, outstanding) needs looking after, there are financial pressures, and Katie is at the end of her tether. Ozon takes us back in time to make us understand and care what has happened. It is on a day just like any other at the factory where Katie works, that she meets Sergi López's Paco, who asks her for a cigarette. López is one of those actors with presence; he makes every role memorable. Katie and Paco have an immediate attraction and soon they become a family with a new baby.
Ozon plants a few clues, like Lisa's preference for a particular cut of chicken and her dressing up in an angel outfit complete with pink wings, but we are not aware of their significance until the story starts to unfold. Arthur Peyret is the cute (and obedient) little baby who plays Ricky, and whose bruises start the whole scenario to unravel. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey, the mood, the performances and the unusual slant Ozon's story takes. It's an uplifting tale: a dose of reality in which a sprinkling of fantasy makes our hearts soar.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
At its most cinematic, Ricky turns out to be a flight of fancy, Francois Ozon clearly inspired by the short story that stretches credulity on screen, even though in its text form it would be an engaging fantasy, keeping our imagination busy. The problem for a critic is that the central twist of the story cannot be revealed without spoiling the enjoyment of those who want to see the film. So cryptic it will have to be ....
First of all, though, we are in the hands of a creative and competent filmmaker; Francois Ozon knows human nature and he knows storytelling. His instincts as a filmmaker are reliable; Under the Sand, 8 Women, Swimming Pool, etc. But even as that short extract from his filmography shows, he's not predictable in either subject matter or style. So in this case, it's rather like buying a brand: do you trust him? Well, I do, although I admit this one is a bit of a challenge, if only for its brazen magic realism, attached to opening scenes of suburban working class realism.
In every respect, though, Ozon's choices are spot on: casting is superb, with Alexandra Lamy as Katie the mother, the ever-reliable and gripping Sergi Lopez as the man, and the amazing little Melusine Mayance as Katie's 7 year old daughter. They, and all the supports, deliver 100%, while the baby Arthus Preyet is absolutely cherubic. Music, so important here, is cleverly balanced between lush orchestral and sparse suggestion.
It's not a total success in delivering heartfelt movie satisfaction, but Ozon makes the film with absolute confidence, which helps the tone (which remains gentle even amidst conflict) and the basic premise of the story is imbued with a sweet simplicity that engages us and promotes a vaguely ethereal sense of compassion and light.
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CAST: Alexandra Lamy, Sergi Lopez, Melusine Mayance, Arthur Peyret, Andre Wilms, Marilyne Even
PRODUCER: Chris Bolzli, Claude Ossard, Vieri Razzini
DIRECTOR: François Ozon
SCRIPT: François Ozon, Emmanuelle Bernheim, (short story by Rose Tremain)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jeanne Lapoirie
EDITOR: Muriel Breton
MUSIC: Phillipe Rombi
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Katya Wiszkop
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Transmission
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 25, 2010 (Melbourne)