Theo and the Metamorphosis (Théo et les métamorphoses)
Whether it’s a Marvel film where marketable superheroes battle some expensive CGI with generically evil plans, or a gently drifting French film about a young man with Down’s syndrome who lives a dreamlike existence in the woods, audiences are conditioned to wait for an escalation in plot – some event that drives the story to its conclusion. This event is absent from Theo and the Metamorphosis, and it gradually becomes obvious that the promised metamorphosis is largely metaphorical, although no less interesting because of it.
Théo, or TO, as he prefers to be called (Théo Kermel) lives in an architectural wet dream of a cabin in the woods with his father (Pierre Meunier). He spends his days enacting daydreams, fancying himself a martial arts master, and generally living a rich fantasy life, while narrating this life in a constant voiceover, which ranges from useful character backstory to abstract Eastern philosophies.
Other than TO’s father leaving him alone for a few days, there’s very little in the way of a narrative thrust, and Theo and the Metamorphosis comes across as more of a character study with a flexible structure than anything with a clearly discernible (or describable plot). This isn’t to say that the film is unfocused, and there are moments of true beauty and pathos.
As TO, Théo Kermel gives a bold, daring performance. He’s truly game for anything, whether it’s performing with a live snake on his head, getting dressed in semi-drag, or having his penis mercilessly slapped around by a woman who may or may not exist. There’s a sexualised component to some of TO’s fantasies, and the film certainly doesn’t infantalise him in any way, which sadly, is kind of refreshing.
TO states that he wants to, one day, define the world through his eyes. The crux is that this is precisely what the film has been doing all along.
Theo and the Metamorphosis (Théo et les métamorphoses) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Theo and the Metamorphosis (Théo et les métamorphoses) here: