A Cat in Paris
Directed by Jean-Loupe Felicioli. Starring Dominique Blanc, Oriane Zan, Bruno Salomone, Jean Benguigui. 70 mins.
In cinemas April 6
ONE FOR THE ADULTS, FRENCH CARTOON COMBINES HITCHCOCK, EXPRESSIONISM AND LOTS OF CHARM
They say curiosity killed the cat, but sometimes it can get the cat an Academy Award nomination. Directed by Frenchman Jean-Loupe Felicioli , this Oscar nominated mature cartoon noir blends interesting aesthetics, subtle humour and an atmosphere of psychologically-driven fear to elevate its simple crime caper plot into a Hitchcockian homage to old-fashioned American gangster films.
Traumatized by her father’s death at the hands of mob boss Victor Costa, young Parisian girl Zoe no longer speaks, placing a strain on her relationship with her police sergeant mother, who has problems of her own. While Zoe only manages to find joy in her mysterious cat Dino, her mother is tirelessly working to capture Costa in the hopes that it will quieten her inner demons and bring some peace to the family. Little do they know that Dino’s night-time excursions with a reclusive burglar will lead them on a rooftop chase of Paris, as Costa attempts to steal one of the world’s most prized sculptures.
As with fellow nominee Chico and Rita, the backgrounds of A Cat in Paris are more impressive than the characters. While the Expressionist-inspired geometrical scenery and the beautifully rendered nightscapes of Paris’ rooftops are a delight, the characters are rendered simply and often distractingly shaded, lying somewhere between Modigliani and a Doonesbury cartoon.
However the tone of the film manages to blend the cartoonish with the mature works beautifully. On the one hand, the crime-comedy caper plot is very simple, with its caricatured mob-boss, simple-minded side-kicks and of course, our furry friend Dino fulfilling all the requirements of a child’s film. But there’s also a dark emotional element to the brief film – scenes where mute Zoe desperately tries to communicate the dangerous situation to her mother are heart-breaking, while the widow’s nightmarish visions of Costa are extremely emotive.
Definitely more for adults than for the little ones, this fun but affecting flick is a lovely way to visit Paris for an hour.