Some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved, and Mouton (no, this isn’t another film about sheep) from first-time directors Gilles Deroo and Marianne Pistone, is the latest in a budding field of beautifully irreducible tales—blessed with the imprimatur of Locarno’s Opera Prima award—that refracts its subject through a prismatic approach to narrative. This shape-shifting is derived from a reflexive consideration of any given scene’s formal capacity to cast an expansive repertoire of unforced meanings. Mouton may be, pace its characters, about the “same old, same old,” but the familiar isn’t necessarily excluded from infinite re-imagining. At the very least, the moving image can’t resist being eventful, no matter how pragmatic or mundane, and certain filmmakers are constitutively invested in this dimension of film that Bazin deemed the “factual hallucination” of the image.
The eponymously named “Sheep” (a nickname presumably owing to his easily swayed nature) is first glimpsed nervously pacing a courtyard beyond a carefully framed window pane, his destiny debated in a foregrounded bit of exposition that sees his alcoholically unfit mother losing legal custody of the boy, in spite of her professed love.