A Powerful Distillation of the Conflicts of Coming of Age
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Laurent Jaoui has succeeded in creating a gripping film that deals with single motherhood, juvenile delinquency, trauma sequelae, and foster homes in THE ACCIDENTAL HERO. Rarely has such an unlikely story been so well realized on film.
Valerie Maillard (Anne Coesens) is a young flight attendant mother of 16-year-old Tom (Alexandre Hamidi), a lad who is angry with the world, believes his mother deserted his airline pilot father whom he has never met, who has endless run-ins with the police, always being released to his frustrated and hostile mother with whom he grows ever more resentful. Valerie is an absentee mother because of her career and Tom feels very much alone in the world. After his latest arrest he has a bitter argument with Valerie, then insists on accompanying her to the airport when she has a last minute call to substitute for another flight attendant. (Tom always places a model airplane on the mailbox in front of their home as charm for Valerie's travel safety). During the car trip to the airport and in the heat of an argument, their car is forced off the road in a major accident injuring both Tom and Valerie.
Tom wakes up in a hospital, discovers his mother survived, but is in a coma. Tom is placed in a group foster home populated with delinquents but managed by a strict man Malik (Karim Belkhadra) who holds all of the power of a disciplining father that Tom has been missing. His only escape is school and a job at which he works nights to make money to give to his mother for past fines. The bulk of his time is spent at the hospital where he watches over his mother.
When Valerie eventually awakens, she has near total amnesia, does not recognize Tom, and Tom sets out to help her regain her memory. In doing so he contacts his mother's parents for help only to discover that they want nothing to do with Valerie, the daughter who got pregnant with Tom at a young age from an abusive man who treated her so cruelly that Valerie was forced to escape. The 'hero father image' is destroyed for Tom and he sees Valerie in a totally different light: perhaps his mother has been 'absentee' but she has never deserted him the way his grandparents disowned Valerie.
Gradually circumstances improve and Valerie's memory is retrieved and the film ends in a stunning conclusion that speaks volumes about family, about love, and about maternal/filial devotion.
The cast is excellent and the performance by first time actor Hamidi is especially remarkable. This is a fine French film that deserves a wide audience. In French with English subtitles. Grady Harp, April 05"
An Accidental Rental
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 02/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was snowing and I thought a nice way to spend the afternoon would be to watch a DVD I hadn't seen in a while: THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. I called the video store, they told me it was in stock, and put it aside for me. I didn't realize until I got home that the DVD I had did not star William Hurt or Geena Davis, nor was it in English and it wasn't called THER ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. It was THE ACCIDENTAL HERO. Sometimes I discover some great films but accident, no pun intended, and this is what I discovered with THE ACCIDENTAL HERO.
Then film tells the story of Tom, played by Alexandre Hamidi, the troubled son of Valrie, a single mother played by Anne Coesens. We do not know the specifics of his difficulties, and in some ways the specifics do not matter. Mother and son are quickly becoming estranged, almost irreconcilable. The two begin arguing while the mother is driving which causes her to spin out of control. As a result she looses her memory and Tom ends up in government custody. The remainder of the film deals with the surprising way he matures and becomes critical in his mother's healing process.
The film tells a touching story but never becomes too sentimental. The son is not completely evil nor is he the clichéd rough around the edges kid with a big heart. The mother is not perfect, and past hurts do not miraculously heal. Perhaps it's this realism that makes the film both compelling and believable.
From accidents comes healing
Bucky Beaver | Greensboro, NC | 02/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The plot of this story is what interested me. A young son has an argument with his mother as she drives to work which results in her losing concentration and wrecking. He walks away from the accident but his mother is seriously injured. Determined to help his mother regain her health and her memory, the young man emotionally grows up under the responsibility and guilt he feels about the accident.
The acting is wonderful, especially the actor who plays the son. The plot does not bog down in melodramatics as would so easily be a pitfall of a movie of this type. The maturation of Tom is realistically presented. Also, Tom obtains a more complete understanding of his mother's past which helps him understand and appreciate her more than he did before the accident.
This may sound like a fairy tale ending but if we do not believe in understanding, redemption, and growth, then what's the point of trying to make life better? Tom learns this important lesson early in life. Unfortunately, it took a tragedy for him to do so.
This is a good film I recommend without reservation."