The Animation Corner: “A Cat in Paris”

BENJAMIN K. PAPLHAM | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST

Author’s Note: This section is dedicated to calling attention to lesser known animated movies and television. If somebody has a suggestion for me to review or discuss, please feel free to email me and I will see what I can do!

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

I’m sure that if cats could talk about what they do while they’re prowling around in the middle of the night, they’d have some wild tales to tell. In “Un Vie de Chat” or “A Cat in Paris”, we get a taste of one cat’s nighttime adventure.

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2011, the French animation company Folimage presents a crime drama, “A Cat in Paris.” The cat in the film leads a double life: by day living with a young girl, Zoé, and by night assisting Nico the cat burglar (not literal cats). However, the cats’ lives get intertwined when Nico helps save Zoé from Victor Costa, the man who killed Zoé’s father. Told over the span of one night, the movie is a story about overcoming grief and uniting families.

The best part about “A Cat in Paris” for me was the animation. It has visually and stylistically creative 2-D animation, which plays like a moving picture book. The characters’ fluid movements contrast the stark and striking shadows that are reminiscent of an expressionistic film noir. One scene in particular that stood out to me was the scene where all the lights are turned out and the characters become moving chalk outlines against a black screen. However, I also understand why the animation might be unappealing to people. Like previous animated films I’ve reviewed, “Song of the Sea” (Celtic artwork) and “Corpse Bride” (claymation), the medium and artistic design of “A Cat in Paris” is vastly different than the realistic perspectives and proportions most of us grew up with in Disney and Pixar films. Still, I believe that the film is worth watching—for even 10 minutes if you get bored—just to get a sample of an international animation style.

But, as I said, the animation is the best part; the rest of the film is a bit iffy. Despite the film being a crime thriller, I wasn’t really thrilled. For the most part the movie plays it safe; there aren’t any real twists that aren’t predictable or what I wouldn’t have expected. And even though we had the exposition information that Costa is a murderer, I never felt any real and present danger from him. Part of the problem is that the events happen over the course of one night, and the film itself is only an hour long. For example, with Zoé’s mother, who is a police detective, the audience keeps getting hints about her mental grief and her extensive work she’s done into tracking down Costa, but her character just kind of fizzles out. Honestly, I think the movie would have worked better as a 30-minute short film. With only an hour, it’s short enough where too many different plot points never blossom into anything long enough where the creators felt they had to invent something to keep the plot moving along.

Overall, I credit “A Cat in Paris” with being a nice “fluff” film. It has its interesting moments but it lacks a deep and personal message that can carry the audience. If you are intrigued, “A Cat in Paris” is currently on Netflix.

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