Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Chameleon Review

Featured in the Encounters section, the World Premiere of this France/U.S. co-production took place at the School of Visual Arts Theatre on Friday, April 23. Based on a true story, The Chameleon opens in the French countryside with the puzzling journey of a teen claiming to be Nicholas Barclay, an American who had disappeared as a young boy from the Louisiana bayou. Marc-André Grondin (C.R.A.Z.Y.) is compelling as the "lost and found" young son of Kimberly (Ellen Barkin, in a shocking tour-de-force) and sister Kathy (Emilie de Ravin). Famke Janssen portrays the stubborn FBI agent determined to unravel the mystery of what really happened several years earlier when Nicholas went missing.

Financed by a consortium of foreign and American companies, the film benefits from its significant funding source in its Hollywood-style production values. The spooky backdrop of the swampy Mississippi River bayou adds just the right amount of mystery to this intriguing tale of loss and faith. The Chameleon is primarily story-driven, compelling and hopeful, like a good book that's impossible to put down. Knowing that the film is based on a true story allows the suspension of disbelief which might otherwise cloud the viewer's perception. The movie is sad and hard to watch at times but filled with magical, magnificent performances.

I attended the film's initial showing. Stars Famke Janssen and Ellen Barkin were called onstage beforehand by director/co-writer Jean-Paul Salomé. However, despite being the very first screening of a World Premiere, there was no Q&A afterward


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