For the everyday working person, the persistence of tedium from day to day can be a killer. Tedium displaces new experience. The practice of lived monotony is harsh, because it leads us to replace intuition with protocol, thus making us forget the simple joys of life's unfolding.
The fortunate among us recover our appreciation through different revelations, be it a mishap, a chance encounter or maybe just a brush with fate. For the townspeople of Nice, France, recovery comes in the form of a 10-year-old boy named Mondo.
From director Tony Gatlif, Mondo is the first of esteemed French novelist J.M.G. Le Clézio's works to be adapted to the screen. Consistently artful and unceasingly lyrical, it works as literary cinema.
Both energetic and very spry for a homeless child, Mondo (Ovidiu Balan) approaches complete strangers with the question, "Would you like to adopt me?" Their reactions vary, but the help Mondo receives says a lot about the durability of the human spirit.
To his credit, Gatlif creates a style of cinematic impressionism to convey the boy Mondo's constant wonder and awe: colorful shots of trees, fruits, sunsets and seas; spontaneous sequences, and mostly surface-driven expressions of a film-long theme. Much of Mondo goes by without dialogue. Gatlif lets the images speak for themselves, creating an easy, rhythmic narrative that is just as simple as the message it gives.
Among all of Mondo's friends, the widow Thi-Chin (Pierette Fesch) shines the brightest with a carefully reined performance as she gradually becomes Mondo's surrogate mother. But all of the film's performances are strong, due to Gatlif's judicious casting choices. Dadi (Jerry Smith), the old vagabond who carries white doves in his ventilated suitcase, rings authentic, mostly because Smith is actually a homeless fisherman. Ovidiu Balan, the gypsy urchin who plays Mondo, was due to be deported from France prior to Gatlif's discovering him.
That's the degree of uncontrived essence the director has brought to this film, a work of unpackaged beauty that, like Mondo himself, excels at making us see life more clearly and easily.
E-mail comments to email@example.com.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.