Flying baby Ricky blends social chronicle and metaphor
by Michela Greco
Perhaps because it refuses labels and blends various genres – part social chronicle of the slums, part family drama and part fantasy – that French filmmaker François Ozon’s Ricky [+see also:
film profile] is ultimately unclassifiable and left critics somewhat nonplussed at this year’s Berlinale. The film – made just prior to Ozon’s latest, Le Refuge [+see also:
film profile] – was co-produced by Italy’s Teodora with Eurowide Film Production and FOZ.
Loosely based on the Rose Tremain’s short story “Moth”, Ricky centres on Katie (Alexandra Lamy), a single mother who divides her time between daughter Lisa (Mélusine Mayance) and her hard factory job. Then she falls in love with co-worker Paco (Sergi Lopez) and they have a child, Ricky.
Until that point, the film realistically presents poverty, degradation and daily struggles, but becomes decidedly surreal when the baby sprouts two chicken wings that are a bit horrifying. The child, and the film, thus take a more poetic turn that skirts the delicate balance between realism and fantasy, chronicle and metaphor, satire and dreamlike symbolism, such as when sensationalism-starved journalists swoop down upon the family in order to immortalise the winged phenomenon.
Through this strange story, Ozon actually wanted to explore maternity but, he says, "in a way that was different than in one of my first films, See the Sea. In that film, two aspects of the maternal instinct were told through two different women: the good mother and the 'monstrous' mother. In Ricky, those elements are found in the same mother, Katie, and we follow the complex evolution of her impulses.”
Released in France in February, Ricky will be distributed in Italy by Teodora on October 9.
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