Toto the Hero

1991 character study

Rating: 17/20

Plot: Elderly Thomas has spent his entire life believing that because of a maternity ward fire, he and another boy were mixed up and that the other boy has lived the much better life that Thomas was supposed to have. Through flashbacks and fantasy sequences, those lives are detailed. Thomas plans to dispose of the other man and take what's his.

Director Jaco Van Dormael, the guy who did Mr. Nobody, was a circus clown before becoming a filmmaker, and that explains the whimsy. The movie this probably reminds me the most of is Amelie although this is grim where that one is effervescent. They both have a playful quality and a touch of magical realism. This, like Mr. Nobody, weaves in and out of the present time and all these scenes that are either flashbacks or delusions, the narrative structure never allowing the character to remain in any distinct time for too long. And also like Mr. Nobody, this is a movie that I really feel like I need to see again to put some of the pieces together. It's poetic, humorous, touching, and unique.

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