Belgian writer-director Jaco Van Dormael makes a feature debut worth cheering with this comically surreal fantasy, which whooshes by so fast that you don’t realize until it’s over how deeply it’s affected you. The superb Michel Bouquet plays Thomas, a hospitalized codger who still dreams of taking revenge on wealthy Alfred (Peter Böhlke), a childhood adversary who he believes has stolen his life. Van Dormael unleashes a dizzying collection of fragments from infancy (when Thomas insists he and Alfred were switched in a maternity-ward fire) through adolescence and adulthood.
A lively Charles Trenet tune, “Boum,” punctuates the action, as does the presence of Toto the Hero, an imaginary detective who harasses Alfred in Thomas’s dreams. Thomas is bitter about his sister Alice (Sandrine Blancke), the girl they both lusted after, and Evelyne (Mireille Perrier), the Alice look-alike he loved and lost to Alfred. Van Dormael hurls images at you while his keenly intuitive script ensures that this unique film will haunt you for a sweet long time.