Stranger than fiction

What better way is there to spend a chilly autumn evening than to curl up with a large box of popcorn and watch a good thriller? Genealogies of a Crime, directed by Raoul Ruiz and brought to Dallas by the USA Film Festival, may be just the movie you need: First of all, it stars Catherine Deneuve in not one but two roles, and it has that old black-and-white movie feel about it, without actually being in black and white. Does it get any better than this?

Sure. The plot is based on a true story that took place in pre-World War II Vienna: Hermine Hellmut van Hug, a child analyst, believes she has detected homicidal tendencies in her 5-year-old nephew. She had developed a theory that by his age, a person's character is fully developed. She therefore decides to observe her nephew's development and trace what she considers to be the inevitable evolution of his criminal tendencies, while at the same time proving her controversial theory. At last, the boy commits the crime she had long anticipated: He kills her...

Of course that's only the beginning.
As the story unfolds, we realize Deneuve plays not only the murdered psychoanalyst, but also the lawyer who successfully defends the young man, Rene. The lawyer, Solange, and Rene fall in love, though it becomes increasingly obvious that Rene comes to identify her with his murdered aunt, and Solange begins to see Rene in the image of her own recently deceased son.

How the plot does thicken.
Did the young man attack his aunt because he couldn't help himself, or did her unhealthy interest in him push him over the brink? Will he be unable to resist the urge to kill his beautiful attorney-turned-lover, who reminds him so much of his fearsome aunt? Will the lawyer, identifying more and more with the deceased aunt, kill the boy herself?

Find out for yourself on Monday night.

--Juliana Barbassa

The USA Film Festival will present Genealogies of a Crime Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes Theaters, 9450 N. Central Expressway. Tickets are $7, $6 for USA Film Festival members; they will be available at the theater starting at 6:30 p.m. For more information call (214) 821-FILM or visit