One of the most remarkable and innovative documentaries ever made, this hour-long film made by Francoise Romand for French TV (1986) follows the famous true story of two English women who as babies got switched in the hospital and 20 years later discovered that they’d been raised by the wrong sets of parents. Romand enlists all the surviving family members in her haunting and bizarre investigation, which involves not only a recounting but a reenactment of all the significant events in the two daughters’ emotional histories. Composed in an elaborate visual form that involves parallel shots, diptych compositions employing windows and mirrors, home-movie footage, stylized group portraits, and striking use of the families’ homes and possessions, and featuring inventive work with sound and music, the movie burrows so deeply into the subject and its ramifications that one emerges with enough material for a 500-page novel. The mix-up of the title refers not only to the putative subject but to many stylistic and formal collisions: fiction versus fact, French versus English, memory versus imagination. An astonishing film debut. (JR)

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