|DVD Une vie de chat
Run time: 70 min
Genres: Animation | Adventure | Crime
Director: Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol
Writers: Alain Gagnol, Jacques-Rémy Girerd
Stars: Dominique Blanc, Bernadette Lafont, Bruno Salomone
Dino is a cat that leads a double life. By day, he lives with Zoe, a little girl whose mother, Jeanne, is a police officer. By night, he works with Nico, a burglar with a big heart. Zoe has plunged herself into silence following her father’s murder at the hands of gangster Costa. One day, Dino the cat brings Zoe a very valuable bracelet. Lucas, Jeanne’s second-in-command, notices this bracelet is part of a jewelery collection that has been stolen. One night, Zoe decides to follow Dino. On the way, she overhears some gangsters and discovers that her nanny is part of the gangsters’ team. Written by Anonymous
|Plot Keywords: notre dame cathedral, pursuit, mute girl, walking on a roof, animal in title|
Country: France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium
Release Date: 6 April 2012 (UK)
Opening Weekend: $34,554 (USA) (1 June 2012)
Gross: $287,709 (USA) (10 August 2012)
I thoroughly enjoyed this film: in one sense it's an animated spoof of a classic thriller genre, in another it's a charming entertainment — and it contains a very well observed cat! Like the B-movies to which it nods, it packs a vast amount of action into its 65-minute running time, leavening action with humour (the splatted dog is a classic cartoon gag — but it's a tribute to the emotional realism of the film that later on the audience was actually worried that it had come to serious harm) and parody with genuine feeling: the gangsters discussing food are a homage to Quentin Tarantino, but the bereaved Jeanne's battles with the cartoon-Costa of her imagination put a quiver in my stiff upper lip. And the clambering up and down the face of Notre-Dame is a pure paean to Paris… and to the Hunchback!
There are two apparently separate stories going at the start: the little girl with a workaholic single mother, plus the night-time adventures of her cat. But neither of them is quite what it seems — the neglectful mother in particular is a much more sympathetic character than we initially assume — and both strands rapidly intertwine with a gangster thriller plot. This may be an animated adventure, but it has more than enough depth for adults as well as children: in fact, I suspect the tension may be a little too much for small children. One little boy in the row in front of me had to be carried out howling that he wanted to go home.
The style of animation is — deliberately — extremely crude: characters are drawn in the simplest of outlines, although I noticed that the cat movement and postures, for all the crudity of the shapes, were extremely well done. (Take the scene, for example, when the cat is sprawled in Nico's room — or when it disdainfully opens just one slit of an eye as Claudine rages at it!) And almost all the action takes place at night or by artificial lighting, heightening the child's storybook appearance of the art. This is clearly a consciously retro aesthetic: I was amused to note that the brand of paper used in making all the drawings got its own entry in the credit listing at the end of the film.
What really grated on me, for some reason, was the depiction of the feet (I had the same problem with DreamWorks' Sinbad animation). The characters in this film have incredibly tiny triangular feet which seem always to be drawn from the same angle no matter which way the rest of the body is pointing, and I found it visually disturbing to have the perspective so obviously all wrong…
A bonus feature was the fluent idiomatic English translation in the subtitles, at least in the London Film Festival version: it makes a welcome change from translations obviously aimed at the American market. (And it's always fun to back-translate the insults: within the limits of my vocabulary of French vituperation, some pretty apt equivalents seemed to have been chosen!)
I'm tempted to rate this at 9 out of ten, but I don't think it has quite enough depth for that level: I'll compromise and knock a point off for the annoyance of the feet, leaving it at a very solid 8.
Even when "A cat in Paris" isn't at the same level of animated masterpieces as "The Triplets of Belleville" or "Persepolis", certainly it is a much better film for the whole family than most of the awful stuff produced by Hollywood in the recent years.
The animation of this film is neat, with a great atmosphere and beautiful sceneries. Also, even when the character's designs seem to be quite simple at first sight, they are actually quite stylish and well made.
The story, without being spectacular, never fails to entertain, keeping a good pace from beginning to end.
While this film is clearly aimed to kids, I think that the adults will find "A cat in Paris" to be quite enjoyable, mostly because it is a way more mature and sober movie for the family viewing.
A Cat in Paris is touching, uplifting entertainment for the young and old. The young will like it for its extreme simplicity, in contrast to many bombastic, whiplash-inducing animated films of the last decade, and the old/older will appreciate it for its beauty and sound.
Prior to its Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, A Cat in Paris, or Une Vie De Chat, its French title, was seldom seen in America. Its animation style is gorgeous and instantly flashed me back to the big, colorful storybooks that were one of the dominant factors in my youth. The scenes look to be lifted directly from a large picture book, with its colors mixed and warm and its characters appearing like simple human-beings. I expected a watercolor style similar to Chico and Rita, another Best Animated Feature nominated from 2011, which had a heavy emphasis on character detail and environment artistry. A Cat in Paris seems more concerned with the environment and how it appears and feels as a whole, rather than the detail of it.
The film revolves around a young mute girl named Zoé, who lives with her workaholic mother named Jeanne and her black cat. Zoé feels constantly in a competition to get her mother's attention, and is in dismay when she reacts in anger to her collection of dead lizards brought home by the cat. Unknown to both Zoé and her mother is that their cat lives a double life; he assists Nico, a local jewelry burglar, in his late night heists. The cat sneaks out in the middle of the night to return home soundly the next morning and wind up in Zoé's arms. One day, Zoé, the adventurer she is, decides to sneak out and follow her cat to see where he goes, despite the cat's protest. The cat winds up leading her into a mess involving gangsters, searching for a rare, expensive statue. The result is a cute, lively cops and robbers film providing goofy laughs and delightfully whimsical material.
The jazzy soundtrack is instantly lovable, the action is in short bursts and surprisingly fluent, the animation is easy on the eyes, and the fifties look and feel is all present. A Cat in Paris is a film of low-key charm, beautifully rendered images, and a series of lovable little nuances all captured within a slender fifty-eight minute runtime. Perhaps, due to its shadowy effect and gorgeous style, you could refer to this as "animation-noir."
Voiced by: Dominique Blanc, Bruno Salomone, Jean Benguigui, Bernadette Lafont, Oriane Zani, and Bernard Bouillon. Directed by: Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol.
As a big fan of anime, I got quite disappointed over the years as the European animation was slipping away, bit by bit eaten away and replaced by the Disney mass production. And just when all hope seemed to have gone, "Une Vie De Chat" arrived, bringing new energy and life.
I liked this anime, I liked it a lot, and there is a good reason why. A single mother named Jeanne, employed in a Paris police force lives a lonely life with her daughter. Zoe lost her father, the mother is hardly around due to work, and the only bright spark of her day is the company of one black cat. But Zoe is not the only friend this kitty has got. Soon, a mysterious stranger will enter their lives, and together they will face a dangerous task…
However, the real eye candy of "Une Vie De Chat" was the animation and the atmosphere it delivered. Drawn in an almost naive manner, the characters, surrounding and overall visual expression was truly beautiful and mysterious in a very special way. Seeing this anime is quite a different experience than you'd expect from a cartoon and it fits all ages, both kids and adults. It reminded me quite some of "Amelie", with a unique visual description of Paris and it's unforgettable charm.
I like to be pleasantly surprised, and "Une Vie De Chat" is by all means the best surprise I could get. There is still some soul and creativity left in the European animation. It's a must-see for all true fans of anime. Good job!