Paloma is a serious and highly articulate but deeply bored 11-year-old who has decided to kill herself on her 12th birthday. Fascinated by art and philosophy, she questions and documents her life and immediate circle, drawing trenchant and often hilarious observations on the world around her. But as her appointment with death approaches, Paloma finally meets some kindred spirits in her building's grumpy concierge and an enigmatic, elegant neighbor, both of whom inspire Paloma to question her rather pessimistic outlook on life.Written by
Dubai International Film Festival
The song that Yoko is singing is a well known Japanese children's song called 'Zo San' (the Elephant), the lyrics were written by the poet Michio Mado and the tune by Dan Ikuma, the lyrics go, 'Elephant elephant, why is your nose so long? Yes, my mother's nose is this long too. Elephant elephant, who do you like most of all? I guess I like my mother most of all.' See more »
When Paloma feeds the anti-depressant pill to the fish, the fish dies instantly. The fish would not die this fast. See more »
Happy families are all alike.
Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
[Quoting from Tolstoy's 'Anna Karenina']
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Three characters and no story. And yet, the film leaves a deep mark on the viewer. No car chases, no explosions, no convoluted plot twists. And yet it is captivating. Simply because the characters of "Le hérisson" are interesting and full of humanity and seeing them connect with each other is an experience rich enough to spare a strong plot.
The three characters concerned by "Le hérisson" are very different from each other ( Renée Michel is an unattractive slovenly cantankerous fifty-four-year-old caretaker; Paloma Josse is an extremely gifted but suicidal eleven-year-old little girl and Kakuro Ozu is a distinguished seventy-year- old Japanese widower). But they have two points in common: they live in the same residential house and, mostly, the three of them are eccentric. Not outlandish or extravagant, simply not like everybody else. Renée, although she tries to fit in with the image of the traditional caretaker (middle-aged, unsexy and grumpy), has a secret (that I won't reveal here, sorry) and is a much better person than what she looks like; Paloma is a very intelligent little girl, advanced for her age, who sees the world with more acuteness than most adults, which leads her to want to take her own life. As for Mr. Ozu, the mere fact that he is Japanese makes him conspicuous by definition. And what is wonderful is that when these three "outcasts" get into contact they start doing good to each other, and to the viewer as well.
This is young director Mona Achache's first feature film and it is amazing how well-crafted it is (smooth editing, fine cinematography, excellent art work). And above all it does justice to the novel adapted (Muriel Barbery's best-selling 'L'élégance du hérisson') by capturing the special blend of gravity and lightness that makes it so distinctive. Mona Achache also had the genius (I really do not think the word too strong) to find the three ideal actors for the leading roles. Josiane Balasko is perfect as Renée, ugly outside but beautiful inside. Togo Igawa is a dream Mr. Ozu; he is Japanese to the core, genuinely has class and really exudes sympathy. As for the little girl, wow! Garance Le Guillermic IS a discovery! I had seen her once without noticing her particularly (as one of the kids in 'Je déteste les enfants des autres') but, here, she is downright outstanding. It must not have been easy for her to play a child too mature, too intelligent, too critical for her age, hiding her insecurities behind her aggressiveness but the young actress lives up to the ordeal. This trio had to be perfect. If a single one of these three actors had been unconvincing, the film would have failed mercilessly.
Fortunately, it does not. 27-year-old Mona Achache works wonders in every department.. Her film is at the same time deep, moving and fun to watch. Don't miss it!
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