mardi 9 mars 2010

Sydney AF French Film Festival 2010 film reviews - Part II - Le Hérisson

previous related blog post...

The Elegance of the Hedgehog (L'élégance du Hérisson), the book

I started reading this book and after about 3-4 chapters I stopped. I just couldn't get into it. Some parts were interesting but a lot of it was way too philosophical for me. I know that French people study philosophy during high school and they love to philosophize ;) but boy on boy... I hope try again and to get back into reading it some time in the near future though!

Le Hérisson

I saw this film as part of the AF FFF. I had already watched the trailers and extracts on YouTube so I had a fairly good idea of what to expect. It met my expectations. I wouldn't say it exceeded them, but it definitely met them. The two main stars Josiane Balasko (concierge) and Garance Le Guillermic (Paloma) are excellent in their roles. Togo Igawa (Japanese man) is also great.

In a way it didn't seem like a lot was happening, but it was. Slowly, we get to meet the characters and understand them just a bit better. The plot goes that Paloma, who is only 11, wants to commit suicide on her 12th birthday. Now don't be frightened off. It's not as macabre as it sounds. She philosophizes about life, comparing human life to that of a goldfish in a small glass fishbowl. She analyzes those around her including her father, her mother, her older sister, and her neighbours in her bourgeoisie Parisian apartment. She does not get along well with her older sister at all and she is so introverted it's almost as if she is an only child at times. Her only 'friend' it seems is the old video camera her father gave her to amuse herself with. She uses it to videotape those around her and to tell stories to herself, almost like a video diary.

The story becomes interesting when the new owner of one of the apartments turns up. He is a middle-aged distinguished Japanese man with all the class and calmness in the world. He is nice and friendly gets acquainted with both Paloma and Renée the concierge. During one scene cooks wonderful Japanese food and I couldn't help thinking how wonderful it would be to have a neighbour and friend like him! (especially one that could cook like that :P )

The movie moves at a leisurely pace until something unexpected and unpredictable happens near the end. I won't give away spoilers nor say if it's good or bad but I heard many people in the audience being shocked and for me, I could not have predicted that that would happen at all.

As you get to know Paloma and Renée you begin to understand why they are the way they are (both introverted and unsociable and seemingly out of step with the rest of the people in their apartment or even Paris).

There are some beautiful and poignant moments in the film which I loved... once you see the movie the image on the movie poster also makes much more sense.

It is quite a 'weird' film/story and I overheard someone say there is no way that could ever be a Hollywood movie and I am inclined to agree!

It was also one of the easiest movies to understand in terms of listening to the French. The reason is because Paloma has the vocab of an 11 year old, Renée doesn't speak too fast, and the Japanese man speaks slower than the other people and overall the dialogues use simple day-to-day vocabulary. That was a bonus as I didn't need to read the subtitles much - yay!

I couldn't get into the book but I loved the film.


An interview with Josiane Balasko, who looks sooo much different to her character dowdy and dumpy Renée in the film!

imdb : Le Hérisson : Le Hérisson


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