Film Review: Metamorphoses


Writer-director Christophe Honoré’s Metamorphoses is an interesting but not wholly successful transplant of Ovid’s poem to modern day France. The ideas are there, even if the execution is lacking.

A girl is approached by a strange boy outside her high school. The girl decides to follow him, to hear stories of the gods, and how they fall in love with human beings…

Christophe Honoré’s film offers an appealing premise; a modern interpretation of Ovid’s famous poem. Metamorphoses transplants elements of Ovid’s poem to a modern, but also otherworldly environment. The film takes place over three acts, the first of which is most interesting.

Viewers are invited to enter this world through the eyes of the girl, at first sharing her bewilderment at what she encounters. It becomes obvious rather quickly that the film will not follow a regular narrative linear. There is a definite focus on visuals over dialogue. Some of the slow motion sequences are better than offers.

Thanks to the abstract presentation of Metamorphoses, it is difficult to feel any real connection to the characters or the situations. Honoré, then, is relying on viewers to engage with the film on a more sensory or a more meditative level. However, this does not really occur. The execution of ideas in the film is a hindrance to to viewers.

Overall, Metamorphoses feels rather amateur. Translating Ovid’s poem to a contemporary setting is a decent premise. Some of the modern interpretations of mythological characters are smart. The execution of this, however, is poor. Metamorphoses is redolent of a student film. The acting, in its attempt to be naturalistic, lacks believability. Pacing is certainly an issue; the film feels much longer than its running time.

Christophe Honoré’s film has the kernel of a fascinating film, but not the sum total of an engaging or enjoyable one. Unlike other art house films, Metamorphoses is unlikely to cause viewers too much deliberation.

Metamorphoses was screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2014.