Directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, A Cat in Paris is an animated French comedy film which was released in France in 2010, nominated for an academy award in the ‘Best Animated Feature’ category in 2011, and is finally having its international theatrical release in June of 2012.
Caught between the acts of being goofy and serious at the same time, the film’s story merely satisfies without being particularly absorbing. But where this animated feature stands out is in its sharp, old-fashioned film noir aesthetics.
A Cat in Paris is enthralling to look at. The film employs rich, dark colors and skillfully hand-drawn shadows that portray characters with slightly disproportionate bodies and shifty eyes. This, and the surreal art direction with vivid backgrounds, gives A Cat in Paris an exotic and charming look. The film looks almost like a modern version of the highly influential, award-winning Batman: The Animated Series of the early ‘90s.
The film tells the tale of two characters that develop an unlikely friendship through a cat. The film begins with Nico (Bruno Salomone), a lonesome cat burglar whose night-time antics are always matched by a black cat that assists him in his thievery. But this cat only stays with Nico by night. When their nightly adventures are done, it leaves his company to spend its mornings with Zoé (Oriane Zani), a little girl who, to the grief of her mother Jeanne (Dominique Blanc), stopped speaking after her policeman father got killed at the hands of Victor Costa (Jean Benguigui), a dangerous criminal.
One morning, Zoé is brought an extremely expensive gift by her cat, a fish-shaped bracelet studded with diamonds. Her mother Jeanne, who works in law enforcement and was her dead husband’s partner, recognizes the stolen piece of jewelry and launches an investigation that ties all the film’s characters into the plot.
A Cat in Paris can be cheesy in its attempts at humor, which seem more targeted towards a younger audience and does not go very well with its adult themes. That being said, the film’s visuals have enough value to steal the show.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 15th, 2012.
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