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Leolo (1992)

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Nov. 13th, 2005 | 02:10 pm
posted by: xeroxchamp in mr_reviewface

The film Léolo takes up where our childhoods also began: in an inconsistent world where our dreams fight to live before sex, age, and delinquency make off with our innocence.
The story is nothing new and perhaps subpar. A child's daydreams make his life infinitely more interesting than the mediocre poverty his family struggles and dies to maintain. His weapons on reality are daydreams and illusions. The young boy tells himself he is not a french canadian; that his name is actually Léolo because an italian tomato picker left his seed on a tomato that his mother once fell onto. At the same time this offends and unsettles viewers like myself, there is still a marked innocence in the lengths the child will go to to dissociate himself from the depressing decay of his family.
The heart of the story becomes Léolo's daydreams. If Léolo writes it, his wimpy brother can suddenly be played by a large muslce man, his dream affecting the way that the world he inhabits is shown. Sure, we've seen the cultivation of dreams into reality before, but where this movie becomes superb is in its execution. The cinematographer, Guy Dufaux, makes each vignette visually poetic; dating the images as simultaneously current and long-forgotten. Offhand, it is nearly impossible to name what decade this film was set in. It feels like it could be happening next door, or it feels like his dreams could have happened a hundred years ago. This timeless visual style mythologizes Léolo as a force constantly under attack for his propensity to dream as a serious world tries to rob him of it. One relevant conclusion the movie arrives at is that the inability to sustain a child's dreams implicates the family and society when that child eventually turns to drugs or alcohol.
While I do recommend this film, keep in mind that it is not suitable for family viewing. There are many sexual situations and uncomfortable scatological obsessions that should offend more than a few viewers. There is a vague and unsettling ending. Perhaps the saddest element of this film, however, is that the director, Jean-Claude Lauzon, died in a plane crash before he could give us more high-quality cinema or see the way he influenced such celebrated films as Amélie .
Verdict: A-/B+

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