WARNING: THIS IS A FOREIGN FILM AND YOU DO HAVE TO READ AND WATCH AT THE SAME TIME! (Unless you are fluent in French.)
The Hedgehog (Le Herrison) is inspired by the bestselling novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog (L'Élégance du Hérisson) by Muriel Barbery. This delicate foreign film follows the coming of age of Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) who has decided that she will end her life on her 12th birthday.
Off to a great start, right?
Actually, Paloma is not a morose little girl by any means. She is just a product of a mother who worships psychotherapy, a career-focused father, and a self-centered sister. Paloma chooses instead of living in the fish bowl of the adults she is surrounded by, that she will make her own destiny.
Paloma's plan is going along smoothly until, through a series of events, she begins to interact with Mr. Ozu (Togo Igawa), a new tenant in the apartment building she lives in, and Ms. Michel (Josiane Balasko) the building's dour, anti-social concierge. Their treatment of her and of each other causes a shift in Paloma's perception. In their eyes, she is not just a silly, eccentric child, but a real person with an important point-of-view.
The relationship between Ms. Michel and Mr. Ozu is also a beautiful part of the plot to this film. Each coming from different worlds, but sharing similar passions.
This film is beautifully shot, often being told through the lens of Paloma's camocorder. Director Mona Achache's use of ink and paper animation also gives a a clearer picture of how Paloma's mind works; for being a foreign film, nothing about it feels that way.
I really loved The Hedgehog. I have not read the novel it is based on, but I am inspired to do so. Even though there are faint touches of modern technology in the film, it has a really timeless feel. This emotionally moving film can connect with a wide variety of audiences and is easily accessable to most anyone, not just fans of independent or foreign cinema.
It opens nationwide on August 19th.