Sunday, 13 November 2011

Une Vie De Chat

I have just come from the Watershed in Bristol having watched Une Vie De Chat, or A Cat in Paris as the English release is titled. This is a film from the French company Folimage, creators of Boniface and Bisclavret and I am really blown away. I'd been excited about this film for a while after seeing the trailer as I'm a big admirer of the directors Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Feliciolli and love their previous short films. I was hoping to catch Une Vie De Chat somewhere on the festival circuit but luckily it happened to have a one-off screening at the Watershed as part of their Fresh Flicks film festival for young people. The film is being distributed in the US by GKIDS but as of yet has not found a distributor for the UK which is all too often the case with some brilliant European films.

Une Vie De Chat (2010) Dirs. Alain Gagnol & Jean-Loup Feliciolli © Folimage, Palace Films

The film tells the story of Zoe, a quiet police commissioner's daughter, and her cat, who by day is a sleepy pet and by night is a thief's accomplice. Whilst her mother searches for the criminal who killed her husband, the same crooks kidnap her daughter and it's up to Nico, a renegade jewellery thief to save Zoe from the gangsters. The duality of the cat's life gives the audience a unique perspective on the story and the social layers in Paris and the film moves from apartments to the Notre Dame across the beautifully realised rooftops of Paris. The film is visually breath-taking. Every frame is richly rendered with oil-pastel backgrounds and the characters have a raw graphic energy to them; imagine a Picasso painting animated. The use of light, shade and colour is stunning and the films feels incredibly tactile and three-dimensional whilst having a wonderfully illustrated look to it and almost the feel of a graphic novel. This is an animated representation of Paris that will go down in animation history along with the likes of Pixar's Ratatouille and Sylvain Chomet's La vieille dame et les Pigeons.

Une Vie De Chat (2010) Dirs. Alain Gagnol & Jean-Loup Feliciolli © Folimage, Palace Films

I don't usually do films reviews as such but I think this film is a really important example of animation being exploited for its inherent qualities in a brilliant way. Whilst the film might adopt many codes and conventions of live-action cinema (filmic language, music etc) this could not have been made as a live-action film. The quality of movement, the striking aesthetic, the expressionistic presentation of Paris, the illustrational feel and use of light is exclusive to animation and this is one of the most interesting looking 2D features I have seen in a long time. See the trailer below.

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