Movie stars

Catherine Deneuve and Romain Duris in “The Big Picture.’’
Nicolas Guiraud
Catherine Deneuve and Romain Duris in “The Big Picture.’’

New releases

The Big Picture A brooding, opaque French suspense-drama about a Paris lawyer (Romain Duris) who takes the identity of a dead man to get out of his stultifying life. As in the Ripley novels and Antonioni’s “The Passenger,” things get complicated. Based on the 1997 novel by Douglas Kennedy. In French, with subtitles. (114 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Chasing Mavericks A fond tribute to the perseverance of the actual surfer Jay Moriarty, who, at 16, scaled a 50-foot-wave off the coast of Santa Cruz, Calif. In order to arrive at the great surfing you have to put up with a family movie of aggravating blandness. You have to really believe in messianic innocence and by-the-numbers screenwriting. With Gerard Butler and Elisabeth Shue. Directed, improbably, by Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson. (109 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)

½ Cloud Atlas A dazzling cinematic folly from writer-directors Andy and Lana Wachowski (“The Matrix”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) that tries to explain human interconnectedness through six narrative strands spread over centuries. It’s profound on the surface — and absurdly watchable — but banal beneath. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and others play multiple characters in sometimes convincing make-up. (172 min., R) (Ty Burr)


½ Fun Size ’Tween sitcom princess Victoria Justice is a dorky high schooler who gets a Halloween party invite from the class hunk, only to learn that she’s got to take her little brother trick-or-treating. When they get separated, her night really gets a shakeup. Justice and her gaggle are likable, but oh, the inconsistent tone. Sometimes it’s kiddie-cute (as the title suggests), sometimes it’s Nickelodeonized “American Pie.” (90 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

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The Other Son It’s almost too obvious and too inevitable to be real. A nice French-reared, Jewish family in Tel Aviv and a less-well-off Arab quintet discover that their sons were delivered to the wrong clan. Making this drama must have been like discovering the website URL you swore was taken is actually free. The movie, written and directed by Lorraine Lévy, is shameless and simple yet solemnly optimistic at the same time. In French, Arabic, and Hebrew, with subtitles. (108 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

½ The Sessions It sounds like a bad joke: A man in an iron lung hires a sex surrogate to help him lose his virginity. But the achievement of this simple, intensely moving drama (based on a true story) is the clarity with which it portrays a good soul in an inert body. John Hawkes and Helen Hunt give rich, unshowy performances as the leads; William H. Macy plays the hero’s priest. (95 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Smashed The most interesting thing about this small, pat drama is the way its alcoholic schoolteacher never looks drunk — at least, not the way drunk people do in movies. Her face isn’t falling off. It could be just that Mary Elizabeth Winstead isn’t much of an actress or she’s opted not to be that kind of actress. But the movie might need that kind of intensity, since it doesn’t really have anything else. (83 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

War of the Buttons Adapting the celebrated 1912 kids-in-conflict novel by Louis Pergaud, director Christophe Barratier and his co-writers shift the action to Nazi-occupied France. Newcomer Jean Texier plays the leader of a junior gang involved in a turf battle with a neighboring village. But there’s a lighthearted, boys-at-play manner that creates an odd disconnect. War and persecution are bad, kids — except when it’s all in good fun. In French, with subtitles. (100 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)