“A Cat in Paris”—a new French animation film directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and
Alain Gagnol—is a delightful little movie, showing that the animated films made by other countries (there was also Studio Ghibli’s “The Secret World Of Arrietty” and Aardman Studio’s “The Pirates: Band of Misfits”) have been continually upstaging the animated movies made in America so far this year.
The picture doesn’t sell out for cheap laughs or overly cutesy scenes. Instead, Felicioli and Gagnol craft a surprisingly smart and compelling story that moves along with such ease. Kids will like it I’m sure, but so will adults. In fact they may like it even more.
The protagonist is little girl named Zoe, and she has a cute and cuddly cat named Dino. That alone should be enough to keep kids interested. But little does Zoe know that Dino lives a double life. Every night he sneaks out of Zoe’s window, quietly walks across the darkened Paris rooftops and meets up with a cat burglar named Nico and helps him commit his nightly heists.
This is where the adults should start finding interest. For being a 70 minute animated movie, “A Cat in Paris” deals with some fairly adult subjects and makes time for them without comic interference. Zoe’s mom is a police detective and is haunted by the fact that her husband (and Zoe’s dad) was killed by a vicious gangster Victor Costa. The movie’s exciting climax partly deals with her facing Costa and her fears.
The film’s hand drawn style of animation may not be the most engaging form. The character and location designs aren’t pristine and polished and don’t exactly pop off the screen with bright vibrant colors like they do in a Pixar film. Instead they’re distorted and disproportionate. Hands and feet are too small for bodies and the faces sometimes look oddly shaped and disfigured. Also, the buildings and streets look crooked at times.
However, these peculiarities give the film a distinct look. They evoke a different feeling and mood. When you watch the movie it’s like walking around in a picture book. During the nighttime sequences the movie’s misshapen appearance adds more suspense and tension. Pixar animation may be more realistic and three-dimensional but the flat, weirder looking animation in “A Cat in Paris” feels more creative and authentic.
As I said before the movie is 70 minutes, which is very short. On the one hand that’s a good thing because it doesn’t overstay its welcome but on the other hand, the film deals with some serious dramatic themes and they aren’t as fully fleshed out as they could be if it was a little longer. Even so, “A Cat in Paris” is still charmingly well made and is refreshing to see among all of the big budget Hollywood animation movies.