Is deception the only way to be free?

TIME OUT

An Illusion review by Joan Ellis


                Time Out may leave you bewildered, but you won’t take your eyes off the screen while you’re there.  Just try to look not for resolution, but for understanding.  In a terrific performance, French actor Aurelien Recoing gives few clues to his character’s truth.  He never tells us what we want to hear. 

                We learn quickly that Vincent (Mr. Recoing) spends his time driving, parking, napping, singing, eating, and lying via cell phone to his wife Muriel.  Always ending his calls with, “I love you,” he tells her at length about the reasons he won’t be home that night, or why the latest ventures that keep him on the road are not working out.  The serial lie develops into a job that keeps him in Geneva with the U.N.  When Muriel suggests, “You might change jobs,” we understand.   

                After Vincent returns, he has to embellish his lies for his father who is much more demanding of the details than Muriel is.  This is not a man hiding a bad secret.  He is hiding his joblessness.  Slowly, we begin to realize he isn’t looking very hard to fill the void. The very sight of a corporate building makes him feel trapped in the same say a business suit does.  Is he trying to protect the non-life he is leading?  Does he actually prefer it?  He is, after all, free. 

                He lives in this web of generalities and lies with occasional visits to the family that tries to pin him to specifics every time he returns to them.  Even on a glistening snowy walk to a mountain cabin, Muriel bores in, demanding finally to see his apartment in Geneva.  She can’t reach him on any level because he just isn’t there.

The spookiness of the film begins when Vincent’s friends and family start to believe him.  There are vague generalities of a Swiss venture, Russian investments, emerging markets, international training - all connected to his life by a small bit of credible logic.  Gradually, Vincent has spun a web that is now out of his control.

Aurielen Recoing, revealing little about Vincent, succeeds in encouraging us to identify with him, not to judge him.  Perhaps we too are sick of meeting the expectations of others.  His Vincent is sufficiently ordinary that few friends notice the details.  He loves his wife and sons from a distance.  This is a man at home only in his car, his cell phone the tool for fabricating a life that his family will accept as truth so he can go on living it.  Is deception the only way to be free?

Of all the interesting questions raised by Time Out,  the most provocative is the one we must ask ourselves:  Am I really doing what I want to do?  How did I get involved in my intricate web of obligations?  What would it be like if I could just float through life untethered?  What would it be like to be entirely alone? 


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