The Chameleon Reviews
A family welcomes home a missing child, but he may not be all he seems to be in this suspense drama. Nicholas Barclay was a 13-year-old living in Louisiana with his family when he mysteriously disappeared, and though his mother, Kimberly (Ellen Barkin), and sister, Kathy (Emilie de Ravin), have been hopeful he'll be found, after three years it seems increasingly unlikely. To their surprise, Nicholas (Marc-André Grondin) returns home one day, claiming he'd been kidnapped by child predators but finally escaped.
As part of an assignment for a class, I watched two films based on the same event. One was a documentary ("The Imposter") and this film. Dear god, I have never witnessed something like this. When I say that, I mean the documentary was amazing. It was phenomenal. Its pacing was amazing, its methods of story-telling were compelling, and it had me emotionally invested. This film had none of that. It was a fictitious version of the same event, but it left out so many crucial details and its overall structure was one giant mess.
While it followed the basic narrative points of the true story, it certainly changed a lot of details that certainly puzzled me. I 100% agree that you have to alter a true story in order to make it fit for the screen, but their approach was odd. They changed a couple of details that made sense narratively (for example the color of his hair, reducing his accent), but they changed details that didn't need to be changed. In fact, the altering of specific details made the film even worse. For example, both films start out with the police finding a young boy alone in the streets. However, the documentary and numerous articles state that the boy was found in a telephone booth, and police approached him cautiously. In the fictitious version, the boy is found lying in the middle of the road and is quickly picked up by the police. The film also changes interactions amongst family members, which I certainly didn't care for. The Mother was portrayed differently in the documentary versus the narrative film, and that sort of complexed me also. For the most part, the majority of the changes they made really hurt the film and were very questionable. I don't know why they made some of the changes they did, and in all honesty, this film was a lot worse off than its counterpart.
Everything from the performances in this film to the way they explore the story is really complexing. I genuinely didn't understand it and it just wasn't executed well. It felt like the actors were either overdramatizing or underperforming, while the rest of the film looked ugly. This is just a poorly shot and composed film, contrary to what we saw in the documentary.
Besides the fact that this film didn't make sense in comparison to its counterpart, it just didn't work as a film. It didn't do what a film should do. It lacked in many different ways and was never able to show us that it cared. There are so many things wrong here, whether it was narratively, pacing, editing, or acting, that it just built up and made the whole experience really frustrating. I think it did a poor job representing the true story and it certainly isn't a great film.
In the end, "The Chameleon" is undoubtedly a poorly made film, and I wasn't expecting to update my Top Worst Films list so soon.
(2011) The Chameleon
PSYCOLOGICAL MYSTERY DRAMA
It says right at the beginning that it's based on a true story, but when you watch it it's just as tediously pointless despite showing some well known actors. It opens the movie in France, with a police car stopping on the middle of a freeway, after seeing a young man encroached naked while on the middle of the road. And after the police requested for his name, he then tells them that he'd been abducted as well as molested without giving any details regarding who it was and where did it happen. And then tells them that his real name is Nicholas Mark Randall, who was abducted from a family who'd been reported missing while living in Louisiana. And he's first greeted by his older sister who assumed the person she was hugging was really his missing brother. Now, it's called "The Chameleon" for a reason as we get to witness the affect his return has on this particular family of nobody's with Famke Janson as police investigator, Jennifer Johnson having her doubts about who he really is. After the film is over, the movie left with many unanswered questions filling the void by using many un abundance crying heartaches and arguing. You can tell a movie is bad is when viewers are able to use a fast forward button on some of the scenes while playing and still be able to tell what's going on.
1 star out of 4
The movie is based upon the true life of European impostor Frédéric Bourdin. He has been in more than 100 houses all over the Europe pretending as their missing sons. His reason for living with different families is not because he wants to rob or hurt them but he just want to seek "Love and Affection".
The movie takes place when he caught first time pretending to be teen missing child in taxes, USA in age 25. The premise of the movie is really interesting but poor direction and weak screenplay made it completely mediocre and sloppy. The director never knew whether he wanted this movie to be a family drama or a thriller. Marc-Andre Grondin was good but lacked proper direction as times he was sweet and at times he seemed psychopath. Emilie De Ravin, Famke Jensen and Brian Geraghty did a fine job. Nick Stahl and Ellen Berkin performance was over the top.
On the whole, it's very mediocre and doesn't do justice to the story.