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Chloe, a young woman, is going on holidays. She entrusts her beloved cat to Madame Renée's care. But one day Madame Renée (an old lady of the neighborhood) can not find the cat. Chloe starts searching the neighborhood... This is the pretext for the exploration of a quarter of Paris and his inhabitants. Written by
when the cat's away, Chloé learns more about herself...
1996 was the year during which Cédric Klapisch definitely imposed his talent in the landscape of French cinema thanks to two feature movies: "un air de famille" and "chacun cherche son chat". The ones who have been enthralled by these two flicks won't contradict me. Written day-to-day on account of the evolution of the story, shot with a shoestring budget, acted by only 2 or 3 professional comedians and virtually non-professional actors, "chacun cherche son chat" confirms all the hopes placed in Klapisch.
One thing I noticed with him is that he has the gift to entitle his movies with catchy and funny titles (which can only be understood by French-speaking people; here "chacun cherche son chat" was translated abroad by :"when the cat's away" whereas the original title in French is "everyone's looking for his/her cat"). "Chacun cherche son chat" clearly obeys to this trend. The main character is a teenage girl, Chloé who's looking for her cat in a popular neighborhood in Paris.
We find again in this film, a few themes and features peculiar to Klapisch which he will develop and improve in his future movies like the initiatory voyage "l'auberge Espagnole" (2002). About it, for Klapisch the loss of Chloé's cat "Grisgris" mainly serves as a pretext to confront her heroin with the exterior world, in the street. She will gradually leave her naive and egocentric world to get interested in the people who surround her and to strike up friendships with several people. In a way, the director tries to communicate us a nearly identical message to the one in "Groundhog Day" (1993): you have to open yourselves to others which enables to see the world under another (and better) angle. Then, I previously mentioned Klapisch's features. I won't linger on them. I will just say that two of them shine. The director knows how to associate an ironic and tender look in the portrait of his characters and he seems very close to them. In another hand, he just has to proceed by little touches to make a situation intense (I think of the moment when Chloé meets Michel's latest lover).
But if there's a more admirable thing in Klapisch's opus, it's the directing of actors. Each one of them is perfectly used. Garence Clavel is a real revelation whereas some of her partners see their talent evolving (Zinedine Soualem and Romain Duris, two actors from Klapisch's gang). And this dear Mrs Renée! Very far from the commonplaces and stereotypes commonly attributed to old people, she's also the opposite of Etienne Chatiliez's "tatie Danielle". The director also grants a great attention to the non-professional actors, even to those who have a minor role. Most of them appear for a few minutes on the screen but their presences remain in the memories. Moreover, the solidarity which strongly links its inhabitants (no matter their age) clashes with the place of the action and the dramatic changes which occur in it: a dying popular neighborhood. We can often see in the film, shots of buildings razed or half razed to the ground.
"Chacun cherche son chat" is beneficial cinema like we would like to watch it more often and this one, "Le péril jeune" (1994), "un air de famille" and "l'auberge Espagnole" can secure Klapisch's place in the limited circle of the greatest French film-makers of these last years. And by the way, thank you Mr Klapisch for making movies that make me happy.
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