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  Ricky Cherub'ed Up The Wrong Way
Year: 2009
Director: François Ozon
Stars: Alexandra Lamy, Sergi López, Mélusine Mayance, Arthur Peyret, André Wilms, Jean-Claude Bolle-Reddat, Maryline Even, Véronique Joly, Martine Vandeville, Myriam Azencot, Diego Tosi, François Lequesne, Julien Haurant, Eric Forterre, Hakim Romatif
Genre: Comedy, Drama, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Katie (Alexandra Lamy) is a single mother who works in a chemicals factory. She takes her seven-year-old daughter Lisa (Mélusine Mayance) to school on her motor scooter every weekday morning, then goes on to her job, but oftentimes she doesn't feel like working and Lisa has to persuade her to get out of bed. However, one day at the plant she notices a handsome Spaniard called Paco (Sergi López) has recently arrived to take a position there, though the only positions Katie is interested in with regard to the newcomer are sexual ones, and she wastes no time in taking him into the toilets to express her passion. Soon Paco is moving in with her, much to Lisa's chagrin, and things don't settle there...

Though you would not be aware of it from the opening half hour or so, Ricky was a fantasy movie from director François Ozon, though he did not reveal this until he had established the kitchen sink, social realism trappings of Katie's tale. It wasn't quite the Dardenne Brothers, but it was what would commonly be described as gritty, even though it was a milder form of grit than some filmmakers would concoct. The sympathies were entirely with Lisa, who in spite of needing to be looked after was routinely taken for granted by her mother and that self-centredness that she possessed; obviously something had to happen to shake her up and alert her to her responsibilities, but what?

That was kind of spoiled by being all over the advertising, but if you had encountered this cold without an inkling of where it was heading then you would likely be taken off guard by the absurdity of what arose. This was sometimes played for laughs, at others played for wonder that something so extraordinary could occur in such grey, mundane surroundings, but once Ricky entered the lives of the three main characters the realism flew out the window, which funnily enough was what Ricky attempted to do. Katie falls pregnant by Paco, and the consequent baby boy is what the movie was named after, at first an unassuming, if rather prone to crying infant, until Katie notices a bruise on his back.

This after Ricky has been left in the care of Paco, who is so insulted that she could believe he was responsible that he walks out on them, the theme of characters failing to act with due care to those who rely on them a running one. But this tended to render the conclusion of the story something of a cop-out when yes, there was a happy ending, but it also allowed the family to forget about those responsibilities the plot had been needling them with for the whole ninety minutes (or thereabouts). You could observe that finally they had learned a lesson to look after each other, but they had found that out by their poor actions towards those who depended on them, nothing malicious, they simply were not capable of looking after people, notably children. Lisa was excused this as she was still a little girl, though even she had her moment of jealousy towards Ricky.

What was so special about this baby? As you may have worked out, those were not bruises on his shoulder blades, but what they were turned out to be very odd indeed: as if inspired by the paintings of cherubs from centuries past, he is growing a pair of working wings on his back. Rather than be traumatic, quite often this was delivered in a humorous manner by Ozon, so while Ricky getting loose from his mother's grasp to fly around the light like a moth was concerning to her, it did look pretty laughable. Not because the special effects were poor, they were actually very nicely realised, but you would laugh at a flying baby, wouldn't you? The fairy tale elements refused to give up once introduced, and in spite of jabs at the social care system and the media, Ricky was more keen to concentrate on the typical moral that each of these would supply, which may not here involve princesses or dragons or whatnot, but was just as stern beneath the frothy surface (or the surface that irregularly became frothy). It was a real curio, and best accepted as a fable rather than realistic, no matter its opening act. Music by Philippe Rombi.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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