Toto le hero

Belgian director Jaco Van Dormàl’s wildly imaginative Toto is a wholly delightful movie. Moving with startling ease between past and present, fantasy and reality, the complex narrative presents a unique vision of its hero’s life from childhood through adulthood to old age. As an old man constricted by the dispiriting regime of an old people’s home, Thomas fantasises about killing his childhood neighbour, Alfred Kant. Thomas has always believed that he and Alfred were switched at birth, an accident that cheated him of a better life. To make matters worse, his father disappeared whilst on a flying mission for Kant senior. So the young Thomas dreams of himself as a legendary secret agent, Toto the Hero, who is dedicated to bringing the supposedly evil Mr. Kant to justice. The great strength of the film is that its wonderful flights of fantasy coexist with strong characterisation and a keen sense of how the subjective mind copes with life’s tragedies.

Belgium/France, 1990.
English subtitles.
91 mins

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