A poetic portrait of a young dreamer as he becomes aware of the big and mysterious world around him
Marius’ big brother and his short-tempered father always call him Mouse. They still see him as a little boy with an over-active imagination. His granddad’s the only one who calls him Marius and who takes all his questions and worries seriously. Marius is about to become a teenager, but he still can’t quite let go of his childhood.
“It’s as if everything falls apart a bit when you get older,” thinks Marius when he realizes that he can never again climb into bed with his dad in the morning, the way he always used to. So he curls up under his duvet, where it’s warm and dark, and he thinks to himself: “This is how a baby kangaroo curls up in its mother’s pouch.”
It’s a touching image that perfectly illustrates the grey area that Marius occupies, and the line that he finds so hard to cross. He feels too big to climb into bed with Dad, but the child in him finds it hard to cope without that sense of security. That’s what this sensitive portrait is all about: how a young dreamer becomes aware of the big, mysterious world around him, which awakens his curiosity, and yet seems so overwhelming and frightening.
The theme of borderlines ingeniously returns again and again. Marius lives on the coast, which is depicted in sentences you can almost taste: “The shifting sand is rough. The mist has settled in. Listlessly, the water laps at the sand.” Granddad lives on the coast too, in a house in the dunes that is next door to a psychiatric institution. Marius is scared of the mentally disturbed people on the other side of the fence, and he starts to doubt himself: where’s the dividing line between imagination and madness?
He even contemplates the line separating now and eternity, in a magnificent scene where he lies in the bath in the darkness. Slowly everything around him vanishes until he feels as if he’s “flying through the deepest depths of the universe… There is only here and now. Or only eternity.”
The tension mounts when Marius gets into a fight with a boy whom everyone calls Bird Shit. People say he was once a resident of the clinic. In a scary confrontation in a tumble-down house, Marius discovers how the history of his own family is connected to Bird Shit’s.