The Chameleon (2010 film)

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The Chameleon
French chameleon.jpg
French theatrical poster
Directed byJean-Paul Salomé
Produced byRam Bergman
Pierre Kubel
Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
William O. Perkins, III
Cooper Richey
Screenplay byNatalie Carter
Jean-Paul Salomé
Based onThe Chameleon
by Christophe d'Antonio
StarringMarc-André Grondin
Famke Janssen
Ellen Barkin
Music byBruno Coulais
CinematographyPascal Ridao
Edited byToby Yates
Gordon Street Pictures
Distributed byGaumont (France)
Lleju Productions (U.S.)
Double Dutch Films (Canada)
Release date
Running time
106 minutes
United States

The Chameleon is a 2010 film directed by Jean-Paul Salomé and co-written with Natalie Carter. The screenplay is based upon the true story of Frédéric Bourdin who impersonated a missing child named Nicholas Barclay in San Antonio, Texas, in the 1990s. Much of the true story was incorporated into the film although the years have been altered and the location was moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


A young man (Marc-André Grondin) in France shaves off all his body hair and turns himself in to the police. The man claims to be a 16-year-old boy from Louisiana named Nicholas Mark Randall, who had been missing for four years. His story is that he was kidnapped by a child prostitution ring in France who physically altered his appearance.

He is reunited with his family who immediately have their suspicions regarding his story. His mother (Ellen Barkin) and half brother Brendan (Nick Stahl) do not seem to accept him, and many questions are open regarding whether this man could in fact be their lost family member, considering he bears little resemblance to the boy who left and now talks with a French accent. His sister Kathy (Emilie de Ravin) accepts his story without hesitation and eventually so does his possible mother.

F.B.I. Agent Jennifer Johnson (Famke Janssen) strongly suspects that he is lying because she has had extensive experiences with people lying to her, including a man who was a child murderer whom she had dated. Meanwhile, his story starts to unravel and the true story of what happened to Nicholas starts to emerge.



The film premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in the United States.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mostly mixed to negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator Metacritic gave the film a 41 out of 100, indicating "mixed or average reviews", based on 5 reviews.[2] Stephen Holden of The New York Times said the film barely addresses the central issue of Nicholas being an imposter, except at the film's "unsatisfying, sentimental conclusion.[3] Aaron Hillis of The Village Voice said the film's psychological, emotional, and moral implications are not explored.[4]


  1. ^ "2010 Film Guide – Chameleon". Tribeca Film. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  2. ^ "Critic Reviews for The Chameleon at Metacritic". Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  3. ^ Holden, Stephen (2011-07-14). "'The Chameleon' Directed by Jean-Paul Salomé - Review -". Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  4. ^ Aaron Hillis (2011-07-13). "What a Tease: Foreshadowing to the Extreme in The Chameleon – Page 1 – Movies – New York". Village Voice. Retrieved 2011-08-16.

External links[edit]