Movie Review: The Chameleon [2010]

A month ago I reviewed a very impressive documentary - The Imposter. Then Shala from Life Between Films advised me to have a look at motion picture version of this very interesting topic. So, I watched Jean-Paul Salome's The Chameleon - a story of Frédéric Bourdin who pretended to be Nicholas Mark Randall - a young vanished American boy.

The Chameleon is not as good as The Imposter, but still this movie is pretty clever. Actually, it gives you more doubts than documentary, cause it does not much follow the line of real story. The Imposter mostly concentrates on actions of Frédéric Fortin, on crimes he's committed and leaves Randall family beyond the interest. However, the movie itself is more complex giving a closer look to every character.

Writers did a great job mixing documented material with fiction one. They clearly show development of main characters after Nicholas's comeback. The script makes you concentrate on three topics: first is Frédéric (or Nicholas) who is kind of shocked as he is introduced to family members closer. As time goes by, he understands that he came in "wrong" place, because they are definitely making his life worse. Every new family, Frédéric has "returned" to  before, welcomed him, made him feel comfortable, but not Randalls, because they have their reasons, why Nicholas should not be back.

Another story is how FBI thinks of this sudden appearance of kidnapped child. Famke Jensen is the only agent who does not believe in any words of Nicholas and his family. Therefore, she decides to hold an inquiry independently. This investigations lead us to the third story, which is story of Randall family itself.

They seem to be not that happy by arrival of long lost child. But still they have no doubt that he, whoever came back, is their little boy and that is why they refused to do a DNA test, or cooperate with police. They know something that is hidden from everyone.

These three stories make a superb and horribly interesting movie. Potentially, The Chameleon could be far more better film, because it can easily attract one's attention, thrill you and make you wanting more about this topic. But still I found it average. Mostly the reason is pure directing and acting. I believe that this film could be more engaging and powerful if Jean-Paul Salome had worked more on visualization of whole idea. The camerawork and acting panel could be better and yes! this kid of movie really needs better actors. The only performance I enjoyed was Emilie de Ravin as a sister of Nicholas. I have never seen Marc-André Grondin (Frederic, Nicholas) before and I think he was not the best choice for the role.
The biggest dignity of The Chameleon is that in the final scenes, it almost clearly shows what really happened to real Nicholas Mark Randall

P.S. In reality, Frederic Bourdin was given a nickname "The Chameleon" by French press, since he claimed around 500 false identities. 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the shoutout! Yeah, I wasn't highly impressed by the movie though as you note, de Ravin gives a great performance. I haven't seen the documentary but was curious to see how they compare.

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  2. I think the documentary is a must see. It's a great work.

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