Magical Realism and Maternalism in François Ozon’s Ricky


The titular infant on the poster for Ricky bears a striking resemblance to the cherub on the cover of Van Halen’s 1984 (minus the cig). And, like VH’s mascot, François Ozon’s flying baby is no angel. Ricky’s wings aren’t white but mottled brown and gray, the color of his council-flat surroundings, just east of Paris, where he is reared by chemical-factory-laborer mom Katie (Alexandra Lamy) and dad Paco (Sergi López), who poses another kind of flight risk. Ozon’s fractured-working-class-family magical realism, liberally adapted from Rose Tremain’s short story, “Moth,” works best in specific moments: Katie transforming the living room into her bedroom by unfolding the futon; Paco changing Ricky’s filthy diaper; the horror of seeing two tiny bloodstains in the baby’s crib, his new appendages about to sprout. What Ricky lacks is a more thorough, consistent examination of maternal bonds (which Ozon unforgettably explored in his 1997 featurette, See the Sea) and of families fissuring and reuniting (the subject of the director’s last great movie, 2004’s 5×2). Still, of this month’s protagonists up in the air, Ricky is much cuter than Clooney.