3 January 2008 | mackjay2
A Strange and Unique Film Experience
LE MIRAGE is based on a Thomas Mann novel, "The Black Swan", and the characters speak as they might on the written page. It may seem off-putting at first, but gradually the drama takes hold and the film works in its own way.
This is the story of Maria, a middle-aged and still attractive women, apparently very wealthy, who lives with her two grown children and a housekeeper near Lac Léman in Switzerland. These people seem to do nothing but stroll around the beautiful countryside and discuss philosophy, nature and aesthetics, along with various theories of life, love and happiness. The fifth character is Ken Keaton, the handsome and intelligent American English-language tutor of Maria's son. One day, after multiple discussions of art, music and history, Maria realizes she is in love with Ken. This strange tale then unfolds in ways that may seem at first familiar, but, as often with the great Thomas Mann, will take unexpected turns and will bring up interesting ideas. The film does not always work well. The acting is mostly fine, with the exception of Christopher Scarbeck as Ken, who must play a difficult role, appearing attractive both physically and intellectually, but who only comes across as wooden. The use of classical music seems almost jarring at times, but it is surely meant to convey the summery, rarefied haze these people seem to inhabit. A film that should be seen because it is so unusual and thoughtful, if not exactly a masterpiece.