movie film review | chris tookey

Toto The Hero / Toto Le Heros

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  Toto The Hero  / Toto Le Heros Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
7.64 /10
Michael Bouquet , Jo De Backer, Thomas Goodett
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Directed by: Jaco Van Dormael
Written by: Jaco van Dormael

Released: 1991
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: Belgium/ France/ Germany
Colour: C
Length: 91

An embittered old man (Michel Bouquet, looking uncannily like Laurence Olivier) dreams of breaking out of his old people's home and murdering Alfred, his childhood neighbour with whom he believes he was swopped at birth.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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A rewarding study of an old man's envy, bitterness and regret. Any similarity to Dennis Potter's Singing Detective is far from coincidental: it was seeing the British TV series that encouraged first-time writer-director Jaco Van Dormael to persist with a script which he feared might be too complicated for an audience to grasp. The complicated structure is not an affectation, however: it very convincingly reflects an old man's thought processes; the jigsaw pieces of reminiscence and fantasy fit together in the end to make sense.

The film is full of allusions to American cinema, from Vertigo and Citizen Kane through to Rachel Rachel , but has its own, distinctively European voice. There are delightfully original touches of humour, as for example in the supermarket scene where Thomas's mother seems to be bleeding from the head, but is then found to be hiding stolen meat under her hat. Or there's the humorous juxtaposition of a couple's love-making with the washing of a corpse. The film's a reminder that Belgium was the home of Surrealism.

It could easily have been depressing; but throughout there's an underlying sense of joy and the absurdity of life, exemplified in Charles Trenet's catchy song Boum , which crops up now and again at apposite (and inapposite) moments.

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