Friday, July 8, 2011 praises "The Chameleon"

...the spellbinding journey of The Chameleon is no less captivating.

This is how Blake French from ended his review about "The Chameleon". In case you don't know it, "The Chameleon" hits theaters today (if you have read my previous posts, then you know) and  one by one movie sites post critics about Emilie de Ravin's new film. is a site i trust and respect. Since i started reading it, i realised that the people who write their critics in the site are experienced and objective. This is why i was eager to see what they were gonna write about "The Chameleon". Fortunately, the review posted on Filmcritic is great. Blake French, who is the reviewer says some wonderful things about the film. You can read the whole interview below. I hope this motivates you to check the movie, if you live near in one of the theaters it will debut!

Rated: 4/5 stars
How difficult would it be to pass yourself off as someone else...specifically, a missing person?  As Frederic Bourdin discovered along his infamous journey as a serial impostor, it's not that tough.

Based on the novel by journalist Christophe D'Antonio, The Chameleon focuses on the true story of Bourdin, who traveled extensively for years under one false identity after another.  Eventually, after posing as several dozens different people, he was imprisoned for some of his crimes.

The film examines one particular account that eventually leads to his arrest, taking place in a small Louisiana bayou outside of Baton Rouge.  After disappearing for several years as a pre-teen, the son of a distressed working class family appears out of nowhere, now a young man, in France.

With many memories missing and a distressed demeanor, Nick (Marc-André Grondin) returns to his family...who exhibit bizarre reactions.  His sister (Emilie de Ravin) welcomes him warmly, while his drug-addicted, alcoholic mother (Ellen Barkin) seems troubled by his reappearance.

Even more peculiar, his trouble-making half-brother (Nick Stall) seems more infuriated than relieved to see Nick again.  All the while, not one of these people questions the identity of the young man claiming to be their family member. 

A local FBI agent (Famke Janssen) smells a rat, and begins to dig through the facts surrounding the disappearance and reappearance of Nick.  There are many missing pieces to the puzzle...but neither Nick nor his family care to assist in her relentless pursuit of the truth.

Director Jean-Paul Salome seamlessly handles the intricacies of Nick's family unit against the soggy bayou setting.  The internal tension amongst the family, which can be seen in their eyes, reflects years of abuse of torment.  These people have been hurting for so long that they no longer feel the pain.

Yet, instead of rejecting these people as repulsive and dysfunctional, the audience is strangely drawn to them.  The characters might be as pathetic as they come, but we still feel for them, and want to get to know them further.  This is, of course, thanks in part to the brilliant performances from the well-selected cast members.

Leading the cast is the brilliant Ellen Barkin and Marc-André Grondin, who create a multi-layered and complex emotional bond as the mother and her alleged son.  Barkin delivers one of the most stirring performances of her career, and is almost unrecognizable in the role.

Clearly a method actor, Barkin completely loses herself in the character, embracing the emotional intensity with a cold, bitter numbness.  She could easily find herself nominated for best supporting actress come awards season.

Grondin, in a role which could have easily been overplayed, delivers a restrained and controlled performance, one that captures the quirks and eccentricity of the title character...but does so in an unexpected light that keeps the audience at bay yet acquires their affection, all at the same time. 

During the third act, the film reveals some of its most pressing secrets, but fails to explore them in a fashion that satisfies the cravings it created in the first two acts.  Still, while the movie is guilty of spending a bit too much time in the wrong places, the spellbinding journey of The Chameleon is no less captivating.

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