Mona Achache. Based on the novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.
Renée Michel: Josiane Balasko
Paloma Josse: Garance Le Guillermic
Kakuro Ozu: Togo Igawa
Solange Josse: Anne Brochet
Best Director and FRIPESCI
Prize – Cairo International Film
RUNNING TIME 98’
PRODUCTION France, 2009
RATING Not Rated
GAUGE 35mm, DCP, Blu-Ray,
“At times “The Hedgehog” suggests a Gallic “Harold and Maude,” with an
intellectual gloss as it celebrates the life force passed from an older generation to
a younger. But its concept of vitality isn’t the popular cliché of kicking up your heels,
breathing deeply and gorging on ice cream. It is an aesthete’s ideal of pursuing
moments of ecstatic perfection in art and companionship.”
Stephen Holden, The New York Times.
Nimbly adapted from Muriel Barbery’s 2006 international best seller, The
Elegance of the Hedgehog, Mona Achache’s first film follows two parallel
storylines: one featuring a morbid little girl, the other a mysterious
middle-aged widow. Scrawny, bespectacled, and highly intelligent 11-yearold
Paloma is disgusted by the futility of her bourgeois existence and
plans to kill herself on her next birthday—a scheme announced directly
into the Hi-8 camcorder she’s borrowed from her government-minister dad.
When not recording her glum observations, the pre-teen films Renée
Michel, the concierge of the luxury Left Bank apartment building where
Paloma and her family live. Mme Michel’s bibliophilia and knowledge of
Japanese cinema are interests she keeps to herself, for, as she says, “no
one wants a pretentious janitor.” Yet when a new resident, the elegant Mr.
Ozu, begins to woo her, Mme Michel lets down her guard, forming deep
bonds not only with him but also Paloma. Veteran actor-writer-director
Balasko, in frumped-up costuming and makeup, gives a remarkable
performance. Viewers will not soon forget the image of her sitting at her
kitchen table, reading Tolstoy and nibbling on dark chocolate with a cat
in her lap.
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