Nicolas is a disturbed boy affected by his father' over-protectiveness and haunted by nightmares are daydreams. Before he can be rescued by budding delinquent Hodkann, he is submerged a disturbing worl created by his own fears, in which fantasy and reality become increasingly blurred.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 1998 Cannes festival, Miller's latest also belongs to the that hardy breed of Euro arthouse movies which are easier to watch than they are to understand. You know the type: the ones when you exit the cinema muttering about how great it all was before asking your other half to explain it to you.
A taut, brooding and deeply unsettling psychological drama shot through with stark images and frisson-filled scenes, the action is helmed with such icy efficiency that one can easily see how its heart and emotions got left in the freezer compartment.
The hero is Nicolas (Van Den Bergh), a shy bundle of nerves whose pubescent traumas of bed-wetting and bad sleep aren't helped by a control freak papa (Roy) who insists on driving the boy to ski camp rather than let him take the school-bus with his classmates. Despite making friends with budding delinquent Hodkann (Nalcakan), the isolated young hero's introspective imagination quickly gets the better of him. Life and fantasy blur: hooded gunmen enact bloody massacres in his nightmares, a repeated vision of his father's crashing car invades his daydreams and, to round things off, he starts reconfiguring the old man's sinister tales about children abducted for their internal organs. What is the truth and what does he imagine? Are his fantasies a way to repress a reality which he knows is doubly horrific?
Miller's film raises more questions than it answers and is frustratingly enigmatic, but it's hard not to be impressed by the way the director develops the snow-bound claustrophobia into a powerful metaphor for the disturbing inner landscape of Nicolas' lonely mind. Try to catch the picture in this, its most unthawed, unsentimental and unsympathetic state - before Hollywood does an overcooked version starring a Culkin brother.
Try to catch the picture in this, its most unthawed, unsentimental and unsympathetic state - before Hollywood does an overcooked version starring a Culkin brother.