out of Five
Running time: 69
Beautifully animated and gorgeously designed, this is a hugely enjoyable and deservedly Oscar nominated French adventure with an emotionally engaging central story, delightful characters and a terrific score.
What's it all about?
Co-directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, A Cat in Paris (Une Vie de Chat, original language fans) centres on Zoe (Oriane Zani in the subtitled version), a shy, near-mute young girl who lives with her overworked police detective single mother Jeanne (Dominique Blanc), who, in turn, is obsessed with catching Victor (Jean Benguigui), the gangster who murdered her husband (and whose death has traumatised Zoe). One day, Zoe follows her cat Dino and discovers that he has a second owner, reclusive cat burglar Nico (Bruno Salomone), who prowls the rooftops of Paris at night with Dino in tow. However, when Victor and his goons come after Zoe, Nico comes to her aid and the pair team up to avoid Victor and help Jeanne capture him.
Deservedly earning an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, A Cat In Paris is beautifully drawn throughout, with the colourful and distinctive style deliberately echoing expressionist paintings. The film is also packed with delightful visual details, with Serge Besset's terrific score creating a wonderfully noirish atmosphere that evokes 40s crime dramas.
What's interesting is that, unlike in American cartoons, Dino is just a cat and behaves like a cat throughout – there are no talking kitties here. As a result there are several brilliant running gags, most notably Dino's multiple encounters with a yapping neighbourhood dog.
The likeable characters are superbly well drawn and the story is genuinely heart-warming, even if all the gunplay and general darkness may prove a little strong for younger viewers. In fact, the overall message of the film is extremely moving and the powerful themes (overcoming trauma, moving on from grief, finding a family unit) are surprisingly adult for an animated drama.
A Cat In Paris is a delight from start to finish, thanks to beautiful animation, likeable characters, a terrific score and a superb script.
Highly recommended. Note that the film is playing in both subtitled and dubbed versions – check your local listings to find out which version is playing where.
A Cat In Paris (Une Vie De Chat) (PG)