No, Netflix, this is not the biography of Ricky "Silver Spoons" Schroder. Screw you...

As the oldest child of six kids, I can remember being a little jealous and put out when new kids would enter into the family biosphere. Well, I guess I should specify, I don't remember being jealous of them when they were babies (I think Nintendo helped calm that fire), but rather when they were older, and competing with me for parent time. Anyone who has grown up in a big family will know just what I mean when I say that even a trip to the grocery store with your mom, as long as there was no other kids around, was a big deal.

In François Ozon's "Ricky" we have the story of a family with a whole lot of new factors encroaching on the pretty good thing that young Lisa has going with her mom Kate. For one, Kate, long single, has found a new man. For another she just had a baby, and now Lisa has to compete with another kid for attention. For a third, the baby seems to have a pair of wings, and is tooling around the apartment, which makes finding Lisa/Mom time a little difficult, as you can imagine.

"Ricky" has an underlining message about...something, and I am not sure if it tells that message really well, or really too obtusely to work. Like so much of European cinema it is entirely up to your interpretation of the film itself. Yes, it is one of those kinds of movies, where there is symbolism, and messages, and you have to think about what you are being presented. Sorry, next time I will watch a movie about killer slugs.
I have heard a few different interpretations of what the movie is about, aside from a flying baby of course, but I don't think anything I have read is right. So, instead of parroting a bunch of other people's thoughts, I will give you, the readers at home, what I think the movie was about.

"Ricky" is about a child, Lisa, and her jealousy over a new baby in the family, a baby who is dieing. We meet Lisa and Kate (Mom) at the beginning of the film, and they have settled into a comfort rut, just the two of them. But then, at work Kate meets Paco, and falls in love. Soon we have a baby on the scene, and we can already see the divide between Lisa and the rest of the family, how she picks up extra chores to help out, but is delegated to riding the bus as opposed to getting dropped off each morning, and clearly isn't comfortable around Paco. Soon even more attention is put upon the baby as bumps start developing on his back, and Paco storms out when Kate accuses him of hurting the baby. All of this is normal drama, and contains no fantasy yet.

Where things get odd is when wings sprout from the little tike's back. Creepy chicken wings.

I told you, chicken wings.

This makes sense if you figure the movie is a point of view story of the daughter. She is young, and chicken's would be the only type of wing she is used to seeing up close (in fact the movie makes a point to let us know Lisa eats chicken often and the wing is her favorite part). Why wings though? Well say the baby was sick and dieing, the adults react in the way adults do, they fight, they bicker, they stress, they get depressed, but Lisa doesn't have the same frame of reference for death that they have, she thinks the baby is going to be an angel and lo, we have angel baby.
Because of the wings (sickness) Ricky is getting all of the attention from everyone, including the media, which is exactly how Lisa must feel, that all the eyes of the world are upon her brother and no one is even looking at her. We get shots of Lisa looking at her brother while he sleeps, and thinking of cutting his wings, but being unable to, anger and jealousy that has no outlet, and hey there emotional parallel with death, how's it going?

In the end, while out for a nice, midday flight while tied to his mom, Ricky gets free and flies off, leaving everyone behind (and leaving Lisa whispering "Fly away Ricky. Fly away,")and everyone is, obviously, depressed. In a moment of near suicide, Kate is visited by Ricky who is, for no real reason, naked now. Because he is an angel as imagined by a little girl. This whole movie (with one exception, and I will get to that) is the story of a little girl hating her new brother, and dealing with his death.

Well, most of the movie is about that. There comes a point in the middle of the movie where I think the story might forget what it is going for and becomes a more "feel good" film. Right after the family realizes that the baby can fly, they take a trip to the mall, and, because apparently strapping your hawkbaby down is unheard of in France, Ricky gets out and starts flying around the mall causing quite the ruckus. Part of this makes some sense, as he is attracted to light, which you know, moths and dieing people and what not, but the whole scene doesn't add to the story or the narrative in any way, and only serves as a way of letting the public know about the flying baby. Well why do they need to know, I ask? In no interpretation of this film that I can think of is it necessary to involve anyone outside of the family, so why the mall scene? I can think of no reasonable explanation other than the director thought it looked cool, so he went with it.

Even with that one scene, "Ricky" is a really well made and touching film, with a surprisingly intelligent take on the idea of a Raptortot. I will warn you, however, that the film is French, and unabashedly so, and is made with French sensibilities, so expect things to be a little different on priorities than an American film, but over all it is well paced, the wing effects are really cool, and, truth be told, the flying baby is just cheesy enough to work. Also, that is the cutest baby ever, so that is something.

You can check out Ricky on Netflix, and if you don't mind subtitles, I would definitely suggest it. There is a little (non-sexual) nudity, and some adult situations, so maybe hold off on the youngins, unless a little boob here and there is ok with you, other than that, make sure to give it a watch.

Rating: B+
 


carla
06/17/2013 9:24pm

Chris, this sounds like a really weird movie!!

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