The Lost Domain

(Le domaine perdu). Raoul Ruiz erases the line between realism and fantasy and forgoes chronological order for memory's own disorder in this fable about the intersecting lives of two men with very different perceptions of the world. Says Ruiz, “I have put a lot of myself into this film, not just nostalgia and what the French call ‘esprit d'enfance' but also some theories about dramatic construction, the integration of time and memory in a new way.” The story unfolds as a series of memories that revolve around Antoine, a French pilot and adventurer who lands his plane on a family farm in 1930s Chile and briefly enters the life of ten-year-old Max. A shared love of flying brings the two together again ten years later at a training camp for fighter pilots in WWII England. In Chile during the 1973 coup, the 50-year-old Max's life is interrupted again by Antoine, this time by a visit from Antoine's son. Played with charming vitality by François Cluzet, Antoine serves as the film's storybook hero, whose wondrous engagement with the world allows him to discover treasures lost to others, including an otherworldly mansion of ghostly inhabitants who evoke a bygone era. Both Gregoire Colin and his real-life father Christian convey a solemn dignity in their performances as the adult Max, who, despite Antoine's influence, can summon no more than a mechanical engagement with the world. The result is a life barely lived, impoverished of its potential treasures, including the mysterious estate that Antoine showed him as a child, a memory that Max has reduced to a mere figment of Antoine's imagination.

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