While out delivering groceries one day, 9-year-old Olivier disappears without a trace . Six years on, a policeman meets a 15-year-old street kid, whom he is convinced is Olivier. He duly brings him to Olivier's dysfunctional family in provincial France, but it is uncertain whether the boy really is their son.
The first 15 minutes of this wistful-but-tart drama of French provincial unhappiness introduce an ordinarily dysfunctional family slightly obsessive mother, jaded father, perky but spoiled son Olivier and sulky, sometimes cruel sister Nadine with the children sharing a secret world of bizarre rituals while the adults' marriage deteriorates. Then Olivier cycles off to deliver groceries to a housebound granny and disappears.
Six years later a cop comes across a 15-year-old hustler in a Paris vice raid and, convinced that he is Olivier, shepherds him back to his reunited family where his presence and mysterious past start to set off odd resonances. Only Nadine is unconvinced by the newcomer, to the extent of tempting him to theoretical incest, exhibiting a bad case of the weirds and developing psychic power.
The last-minute murder mystery doesn't sit well with the film's naturalistic tone, and though the middle section in which the new Olivier insinuates himself into the family has an uneasy power, it doesn't come up with the climax the story really needs
This would dearly like to be eerie and surprising, but despite having some astute performances and an impressive air of familial creepiness, it never works up a need-to-know urgency, with all the story's revelations introduced with typical French nonchalance.