Comedie De L’Innocence

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Movie Review by Alice Castle

Starring: Isabelle Huppert, Jeanne Balibar, Charles Berling
Director: Raoul Ruiz

Raoul Ruiz – always the bridesmaid and never the bride at the big festivals (having had several films in the official selection at Cannes and Berlin including TIME REGAINED and DARK AT NOON) – brings us a ghost story in the shape of COMEDIE DE L’INNOCENCE based on a novel by Massimo Bontempelli and starring Cannes’ award winner Isabelle Huppert and Jeanne Balibar.

The two women are both making claim to a young boy, the rather spoiled nine year-old Camille, in a strange tale, which could be that of the Solomon bible story. A comedy it isn’t. Interminably serene Ariane (Isabelle Huppert) is Camille’s biological mother – a busy and sophisticated Parisienne, swathed in pale cashmere and clearly wealthy judging by her gorgeous and unusual house in central Paris, the setting for most of the film. Ariane leaves her young son in the care of an attractive but rather unconcerned nanny all day. And it seems that on his daily constitutionals round the park, Ariane’s only child has been playing with imaginary friends and filming his adventures with a video camera.

Problems begin when Camille starts to talk to his mama and nanny as if he has a whole new identity – another home, new friends, different memories and even a brand new mum. Attention seeking lonely little boy? Absent father always away on business? Isabelle is upset and determined to find out what is causing him to be so troublesome. She tracks down the beautiful and mentally unstable Isabella by asking Camille where his new mother lives. Isabella – played by the lovely Jeanne Balibar (VA SAVOIR? aka WHO KNOWS?) – is a woman who seems as if she’s always about to fall off the edge. Nevertheless, little Camille treats her as if she is his mother and demands to stay with her in her tiny little flat rather than go home with Ariane to her palatial residence.

Rather than demand Camille forgets his other ‘life’ Ariane suggests that Isabella moves in with them too, much to the disgust of her psychiatrist brother. Eventually they get to the bottom of it in a rather Scooby Doo type ending – pesky kids, video evidence and a rather weak ghost story.

I’ve never been one for spooky stories of children possessed – though I enjoyed THE OTHERS this year. Good performances from all concerned but ultimately a disengaging story.

2 out of 6 stars