A remarkable, visually enchanting first feature from former professional clown Jaco Van Dormael. TOTO skips back and forth through time, unraveling the obsessed thoughts of the bitter, retired Thomas Van Hosebroeck (Michel Bouquet). Thomas is convinced that, as a baby, he was accidentally
switched with neighbor Alfred Kant, who grew up in the lap of luxury while Thomas had to endure the hardships and indignities of a tough working-class upbringing. Thomas's troubled childhood includes falling in love with his sister Alice (in his eyes they aren't really related), who is killed
when, at Thomas's urging, she sets a retaliatory fire on Alfred's property. As an adult, Thomas begins an affair with Alfred's wife, Evelyne, who agrees to run away with Thomas but is late for their train-station rendezvous. (Certain he's been abandoned again, Thomas leaves the station, failing to
see Evelyne arrive an instant later.) At sixty, Thomas at last perceives an opportunity to get even with his lifelong secret nemesis, now a prominent industrialist, via a plot involving political terrorists. Recurring throughout Thomas's daydreams is Toto, an archetypal fantasy figure who looks
like a stockier version of Inspector Clouseau and is perpetually doing battle with the forces of evil (gangster stand-ins for Alfred).
One can hardly imagine any other way for the intricate, metaphysical premise of TOTO to unfold, other than through this controlled explosion of impressions. The multi-flashback structure uses recurrent motifs and coincident images, notably of family, fire and flight, to vividly evoke the wonders
and horrors of childhood.
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