The Hedgehog (2011)
Inspired by the beloved New York Times bestseller, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery, The Hedgehog is the timely story of Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) a young girl bent on ending it all on her upcoming twelfth birthday. Using her father's old camcorder to chronicle the hypocrisy she sees in adults, Paloma begins to learn about life from the grumpy building concierge, Renée Michel (Josiane Balasko). When Paloma's camera reveals the extensive secret library in Renée's back room, and that the often gruff matron reads Tolstoy to her cat, Paloma begins to understand that there are allies to be found beneath the prickliest of exteriors. As the unlikely friendship deepens, Paloma's own coming of age becomes a much less pessimistic prospect. -- (C) NeoClassics Films … More
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Critic Reviews for The Hedgehog
"The Hedgehog" sneaks up on you with its heartfelt storytelling and sophisticated wit.
A reminder that, sometimes, the movies can get a beloved book exactly right.
This a movie with such a light, stylish touch, it makes no claims to profundity and is a sweetly hopeful experience.
"The Hedgehog" is a treat: a movie that's smart, grown-up, wry and deeply moving.
Enchantment will go a long way toward overcoming implausibility, but there's not enough of the former here - and far too much of the latter.
11-year-old Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) is rich, precocious and extremely judgmental in the way that only a privileged child can be.
Le Guillermic is fine in this calm comedy of subverted exteriors and expectations, but it's the remarkably unpretentious -- earthy, even -- Balasko who anchors Achache's adaptation.
Balasko's performance is the highlight, as she breathes believable inner life into the stock character of the lonely, embittered widow.
Portrayed by Balasko with nuance, grace, intelligence and humor, Renee is a quietly terrific portrait of a deserving, dynamic woman who has long gone unnoticed.
With her film, Achache achieves a rare thing: She is faithful to the spirit of a terrific book but finds ways to make it come alive on film.
A charming performance by young Garance Le Guillermic proves key to the success of Mona Achache's adaptation of the popular Muriel Barbery novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog.
It's a brisk, touching comedy with a deliberately shocking climax and attractive performances from Josiane Balasko and Togo Igawa as the two people who change Paloma's understanding of life.
It's some feat for this gentle French drama to overcome the device of an impossibly precocious, camcorder-wielding 11-year-old narrator (Garance Le Guillermic), who has secret plans to commit suicide on her next birthday.
This film's main attraction is the terrific Balasko. She is so watchable that one almost forgets about the awful Paloma and her video camera.
The fate of a goldfish provides a subplot in a film strong on tender characterisation and rather wishful about the remedies for loneliness.
Audience Reviews for The Hedgehog
"My parents are rich, my family is rich and my sister and I are basically rich. But, in spite of that, in spite of all this luck and wealth, for a long time now I've known I'm heading for the fishbowl. A world where adults bang like flies on the glass. But I know one thing. The fishbowl isn't for me.".
Paloma is a bright little girl that decides to commit suicide on her 12th birthday. Once the important is not how or when but what you're doing
when you die, she decides to make a film to show how absurd life is.
In the beginning she didn't convinced me, but now I remember of Le Diable Probablement and I can see some similarities between Bresson's character Charles and her: they don't have the "common" agnst or deep sadness that used related to suicidal people, but a feeling of certainty and, conequently, unadjustment.
Mona Achache works up such a difficult subject with humour and sensitivity. The images of Paloma's film in contrast with the film itself are great and the drawings, adorable.
I just didn't like the dramatic-expected fairytale/love tale.
"The Hedgehog" starts with 11-year old Paloma(Garance Le Guillermic) filming herself talking about killing herself on her twelfth birthday in about 165 days. In the meantime downstairs, Renee(Josiane Balasko), the concierge, goes about her daily business. So, as one old tenant dies, Kakuro(Togo Igawa) arrives to take his place, along with a love of literature.
Well, you certainly have to give "The Hedgehog" this much. As unique as it is, equally combining sweetness and darkness, the movie gets right to the heart of the matter by grabbing the viewer's attention right away and gently never letting go. Overall, with its references to multiple art forms, including literature, movies and painting, the movie is about the imagination, with a character at the center who has an overactive one while ironically not being able to imagine much of a future for herself, just as Kakuro and Renee indirectly remind her that it may never be too late. At the same time, the viewer has to use his imagination to think about what Paloma's life may be outside of the apartment building where the movie is entirely set except for a brief visit to the cleaners. Not that it is her fault, but I think her depression comes from being bullied on the playground, as her kind of precociousness and weirdness never go over well there. Plus, we never see any friends in the apartment.
This is an odd movie with a touching story, adapted from the international best seller The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I have to say that I never heard of the French filmmaker Mona Achache before, and my surprise was very pleasant, smart, funny and warm film!
The story is told by the 11 year-old Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) and is telling us that she has decided that life is not worth living, and that most of the people around her exist in a pointless fishbowl that will only end in suffering. She informs us that she intends to end her life on her twelfth birthday, which will take place in 153 days... and everything starts rolling from there in a real tour de force!
Paloma is adorable even with her round eyeglasses and striped shirt, carrying a video camera wherever she goes. She is documenting the ridiculous and therefore tragic lives of the fishbowl people she lives among. The other two major characters in the story are the elderly Japanese man Kakuro Ozu (Togo Igawa) who moves into Paloma's building, and the building's janitor Rene Michel (Josiane Balasko), an overweight woman with no friends and a cat. Somehow, this trio (melancholic Japanese man, the depressive Paloma, and the gruff Hedgehog - janitor Rene) manage to bring out the best in each other. Charming performances, very well directed, perfect story - and here it is: one of the films you'll remember forever! Do not miss it!
The Hedgehog Quotes
- Solange Josse:
- When I was little, I thought we got a number of words to say at birth and once we used them all up, we'd be struck dumb. For me, mutes didn't get their allocation of words.
- Paloma Josse:
- My very own Everest is showing how life is absurd, my life and the life of others.
- Paloma Josse:
- For a long time now I've known, my final destination is the fishbowl.
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