The Hedgehog - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Hedgehog Reviews

Page 1 of 13
Super Reviewer
September 16, 2010
"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.

Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ February 19, 2014
"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.
PantaOz
Super Reviewer
½ January 15, 2013
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!
½ March 10, 2013
I didn't care for this film a much as I'd hoped. It seemed sparse on insight and lacking in proper characterization if its peripheral cast. It was pretty and well acted, but uninspiring.
½ August 1, 2012
"The Hedgehog" is a tour de force that carries subtle nuances of everyday lives into a new level...and weaves them into a bundle that pleases the eyes, just like the book.
September 24, 2011
"The Hedgehog" is a french movie based on the acclaimed book "The Elegance of a Hedgehog". It is the story of Paloma Josse, a young and very smart girl, who hated the status of her family: rich but ordinary people. Due to that fact, Paloma prepared her own suicide for her 12th. During that time, a new neighbour, Kakuro Ozu, is arriving in the building that will change the life of the concierge, Renée Michel. Renée Michel is basically the main character of the story since she is the "hedgehog": hiding her love of reading due to her concierge's status. Paloma will try to discover more about Madame Michel and Renée will be engaged into a love story with Kakuro...
The movie is trying to let us understand a certain philosophy about life that may be hard to catch because of the slowness of the movie. However, I enjoyed the slow-paced and the various scene related to the concierge, somehow blooming thanks to the arrival of Kakuro in her life.
Slow-paced but interesting storyline makes that moive to be okay in my opinion.
½ September 20, 2011
A curmudgeonly old super sitting in a secret back room library. A brilliant young girl holding a hand held camera. A kindly old sophisticate. A pair of hyper medicated, under appreciating parents. A single image of a swimming goldfish. Adapted from the bestselling book The Elegance of the Hedgehog, this French import is filled with images, some sad, some serene and some purely metaphorical, but chock full nonetheless. Films of this type can sometimes border on high minded melodrama but thanks to an excellent combination of acting, writing and storytelling, The Hedgehog rises above the dour setup of the first act, providing one my biggest surprises so far this year.

The film starts off through the lens of eleven year old Paloma's handheld camera as she introduces you to the people that color her world: her distant parents, her constantly irritated sister, her quietly swimming goldfish, all constant reminders of the drudgery that growing up has to offer. Intelligent enough to realize that she doesn't want to become those people yet too young to see how she can escape, she sets in motion a nine month plan to document the world as she sees it and then, on her twelfth birthday, commit suicide, leaving behind her film as a photographic death note.

While this may seem like a heavy handed setup at first glance, The Hedgehog has a darkly comic edge to it, important in balancing out the impending death of a pre-teen. Paloma, played perfectly by Garance LeGuillermic, fills the role with an equal measure of sharp wit, surprising insight and youthful naivety. Smart kids often play too much like adults but LeGuillermic and writer Muriel Barbery avoid that trap by giving the character time to be childish, even when she's discussing the origins of Go with her sister's boyfriend or ruminating about the boring life of her bowl bound goldfish. There's a playful air to Paloma's melancholy and that pulls us through a film that could have easily been too heavy to handle.

Thirty minutes in, however, the film starts to hit its stride when Paloma meets Renee, the frumpy yet cordial concierge of her family's apartment building. Played by famed French actress Josiane Balasko, Renee has a prickly exterior, caused by years of personal neglect and private pain, a facade that Paloma sees right through. Balasko is near brilliant in a complex role that requires her to be begrudging of her high class tenants while harboring an inner sweetness that many years of drudgery has kept hidden. While Balasko is great in her interactions with Paloma, her character really blooms when she becomes romantically involved with a new tenant, Kakuro, played expertly by Togo Igawa. Keeping with the tone of the film, their relationship is a quietly simple one: Renee struggles for things to say, stumbles about Kakuro's meticulous apartment and squirms at his noodle slurping, all watched by the patiently understanding eye of Kakuro. Their relationship is all about careful acceptance and although the moments we see are minutia, each character is defined by their subtleties in very special ways.

In fact, if asked to sum up The Hedgehog in twenty words or less, I'd probably say it's a darkly sweet story about healing from old wounds, rediscovering love and valuing the quality of life. Backed by fantastic performances, a disarmingly dark storyline and sucker punch ending that, while shocking, makes perfect sense for the message the film's trying to send, The Hedgehog is yet another excellent offering from the French filmmaking industry. And much like the small goldfish swimming in his bowl, the grouchy old lady sitting amongst her books or the kindly gentleman living life the best he can, The Hedgehog creates a sense of serenity that's magically dreamlike, even when rooted in the realities of the world. A wonderful film indeed.
½ September 4, 2011
The pre-teen 11 year old girl in Mona Achache's The Hedgehog is one of the most delightful characters to watch on screen in the past few years. Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) decides to kill herself in a few months on her 12th birthday because she cannot bear the thought of living the rest of her life in a fishbowl. In voiceover, this decision is not a melodramatic response to her perceived lot in life or depression, but the result of a particularly witty form of logic. Paloma is not portrayed as a girl genius because she is overly book smart, but because she has the firmest grasp of pure rhetoric and logic any character has ever had before in a film.

Paloma spends her days sneaking around her large apartment and the fancy apartment building around it with her sturdy 8mm video camera documenting her family's neuroses and those of her neighbors. She can be extremely harsh, but true, when it comes to defining her mother, father, and sister through the lens. There is one neighbor Paloma cannot quite put her finger on though, which is rare, and that is the building's super who lives downstairs. From the unobservant eye, Renee Michel (Josiane Balasko) is a middle-aged and sour hermit who lives to mop the floor, distribute mail, and to give you a wary eye as you pass by. But there is something deeper than just what the eye can see which Paloma wants to find out. She realizes that being a building's concierge is the perfect place to hide in plain sight.

A new tenant moves in one day, Kakuro Ozu (Togo Igawa), and he and Paloma realize they are kindred spirits. Mr. Ozu is a wealthy Japanese businessman and he strikes up a friendship with Paloma as they discuss their shared curiosity for the downstairs woman and their delight in playing the game Go with one another. Paloma has an enjoyable scene where she eviscerates an elder dinner guest who insists Go is the Asian form of chess. Using her impeccable logic, she makes a fool of him by even suggesting this could be so.

The Hedgehog won the Audience Award for Best Film at the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival which is quite an achievement considering they screen hundreds of films in competition there. I will not soon forget what a great time I had being able to sit back and listen to brilliant dialogue in a film which is set almost exclusively in one building in Paris. Bravo.
½ August 18, 2011
adored the book and the movie was a rare one that did its mama proud. there are probably bits a viewer misses without the background and all the thoughts of Renà (C)e, but for the most part, it tells the same story.
½ March 21, 2016
Pleasant and warm and just a tiny bit eccentric. Filled with lovely little details that made me smile.
Great music. Cinematography is lovely. The acting is wonderful.
But that ending though... sigh...
½ July 4, 2015
Poignant, funny, moving French film.
December 10, 2014
A fortunate find on Sundance Channel after waking up in the middle of the night and not able to get back to sleep. Definitely as good as the book.
½ September 24, 2014
The love between very unlikely characters is beautifully portrayed in this film. Love goes beyond the conventional, self-centered love between two persons, to the many subtle layers of true love & friendship in this film. This is the only film to have ever made me laugh in one moment, & cry in the next .. Paloma's insights on life & people is brilliant too. Most of all, this is one of the few films that could depict the development of friendship & love with more gestures than words, more silence than sounds, to fill your heart. Enjoy.
April 28, 2013
I'm surprised, in retrospect, that I'd never heard of this one. It's really good. really good acting. I could watch Josiane Balasko all day - she's so expressive, and ...honest? She's clearly a master of human body language.
½ April 19, 2014
Superb! I wish American films could be this good....I suppose I will have to learn to speak French.... I Don't mind subtitles...but sometimes I feel I loose some of the meaning by not being able to understand the language of the film. Still, this was an intellectual and stimulating film that reminded me of my own childhood. While I can't say I found it hopeful, as many reviewers have stated...it sweetly suggests that our perceptions determine our reality.
½ April 13, 2014
film simple mais touchant. Balasko's performance is remarkable.
April 1, 2014
very good film. WAY better than the book
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ February 19, 2014
"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.
½ January 4, 2014
Prepare yourself for a feels trip
Page 1 of 13