A Cat in Paris Reviews
Eminently forgettable, A Cat in Paris doesn't offer much. The plot is fairly basic, and the revenge fantasy is overbearing and lacking in any subtlety. The animation is neither realistic nor stylized.
Overall, this is a short film, but I can't say a lot about it because it doesn't say a lot for itself.
Une vie de chat, that was nominated for a César for Best Animated Film and was selected to te Berlinale, both in this year (2011), is a 2D love letter to film noir, crime films and, why not, comic superheroes, Hitchcock, the Pink Panther and maybe some more other things, all filled with a great soundtrack that "starts" with a vintage rendition of Billie Holiday's I wished on the moon and "finishes" with a delightful typical French song: "Java sous la neige" by Serge Besset. The opening credits (especially the song "Monte en l' air", also by Serge Besset) instantly reminded me of Spider-Man's, but someone pointed out that there are also similarities with Batman. Either way, the references to fantasy adventure films is also seen in the Colossus of Nairobi walking over Paris like King Kong does in New York.
All that said, Une vie de chat sounds to be a great film. The plot surrounds a cat that leads a double life: during the day he is Dino, the pet of the little Zoe whose mother is a police superintendent and whose dad was killed by the gangster Victor Costa, and at night he is the cat, who follows a nice burglar over the rooftops of Paris. Things get bad when Zoe decides to follow Dino and is caught by Costa and his men. Now Dino and Nico, the burglar, have to save Zoe.
Perhaps the film is able to keep kid's attention, but despite all the references* and the amazing gallery of "charming" and funny characters - the dumb night watchmens, the gang of gungsters, the big boss, the old lady neighbour, the little dog (a Yorkshire?)* - what started as a great promise, let me down.
I read somewhere that the drawings recall Matisse and Picasso. I have not thought about that, but they really do. Not being the biggest fan of neither Matisse nor Picasso, that can explain my discomfort with some characters' facial expressions. Speaking of the drawings, the amazing "scene in the dark" (my favourite) reminded me somehow of the Simon's Cat, with the difference that Jean-Loup Felicioli's lines are thinner, resulting in a more elegant outcome. (However, this elegance might be due to the white lines over the black screen). And speaking of the characters, I'd like to make just a small observation on how Nico and Zoey's nanny seem to have foreign origins. Being the immigration a major topic in France, nothing more natural than "bring it up" in a casual way.
* And the boat-rowing scene ... remember The Night of the Hunter? The argument in the car about food comes from Goodfellas.
** In the first scene where the dog appears barking, it's funny to note how its big shadow on the wall gives the idea of power to then, in the next moment, it be knocked down by a slipper.
"A Cat in Paris" is a hand-drawn animated film that has more going for it than just its old fashioned charm. That's because it is deeper than your average animated film with a fast pace and even a couple of white knuckle moments. However, that same quick pace works against the film as it too conveniently puts Dino and Costa in the same general physical neighborhood which in such a large city as Paris is too large a coincidence to easily overlook.
And of course I watched the French language version.
A Cat In Paris is about a cat who lives a secret life as a cat burglar's aide must come to the rescue of Zoe, the little girl he lives with, after she falls into a gangster's clutches. The plot is simple and to point which works for in it favors. It tells an original well and in a time when are rehashing old ideas this is a breath of fresh air. It never gets to dark yet it effectively adds a sense of the danger to what the characters go through. Despite it short length it does have a acceptable amount of back story and character development. It has some jokes that will make you laugh, especially the idiotic gangsters. The animation itself is well done and the visual style is wonderful to look at when in motion. The music score is very good, it has that noir feel it which I welcome. I add that the original titles translate to A Cat's Life, but for some reason changed the title to A Cat In Paris in English speaking country. It'll definitely be over you before know it, but it's worth a watch.
A Cat In Paris is short on it length, but it makes for it with quality story telling, a very good musical score, and gorgeous animation.
However, I do think that this movie could have been better. I didn't really like that there wasn't much music in the movie (it made some scenes that could have been really good, merely good.). Also, there were times when the villains seemed a bit too silly and, as a result, it didn't feel as much like the main character was in real danger.
But, in spite of my quibbles, A Cat in Paris is still a good movie that I think should be watched.