L’homme au mille visages | The Man with a Thousand Faces (2024)

April 19th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Sonia Kronlund | France Doc, 90′

So who is the man of a thousand faces? He introduces himself as Daniel, Alexandre or Ricardo and apparently comes from Brazil or Argentina. Sometimes he’s a surgeon, others an engineer. The women he meets and moves in with are disarmed by his looks, charisma and accomplishments. They fall in love, one even falls pregnant. Meanwhile the fantasist flits around the world juggling these various relationships, always an excuse in hand for his absence.

Documentarian and screenwriter Sonia Kronlund (The Prince of Nothingwood) is fascinated by the story and decides to investigate with the help of a private detective. We meet the women involved. They are intelligent, grounded and articulate. No histrionic outbursts just calm refections of incredulity as they gradually dissect and come to terms with their nemesis. Can they ever be the same again?. When your lover says his father has been killed in a car crash, is it churlish to reply: Really? This is the vestigial damage they are left to work through in their future relationships. Falling in love demands a certain innocence, a vulnerability. Can that ever be regained?

Kronlund knows the territory. What emerges is another tale of self-reinvention, rather like in The Prince of Nothingwood. The French filmmaker herself admits to having been duped by unsatisfactory past relationships so there’s an empathy of kindred spirits and a deep satisfaction at work here as she constructs her extraordinarily subtle expose of a pathological liar. A man unable to be straight with others – let alone himself.

Adopting a classic three act structure Kronlund gradually works her way towards the finale as she peels back the layers of this arch psychological scandal, checking her facts with a lawyer who is able to demonstrate that the man’s entire existence is based on the dissemination of images of lives which are not his – a face can be slotted into an online uniform or guise that bears no resemblance to reality. Finally we see the real ‘Ricardo’ ‘hoisted by his own petard’ in this clever piece of investigative filmmaking. @MeredithTaylor


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