By Hemanth Kissoon
“A little girl shouldn’t play with dead spiders, lizards,” Jeanne to her daughter Zoé.
The filmmakers certainly pack a lot into the 62 minutes. There are four different story threads:
1. Mother and daughter are not getting on so well. Zoé doesn’t speak, and maybe never has.
2. Jeanne’s husband, a fellow cop, has been murdered by thief Victor Costa, and she is determined to bring him to justice.
3. Cat burglar Nico is out every night stealing from businesses and homes.
4. Villainous Costa is determined to steal a priceless artefact.
All this takes place over a few days in Paris. The titular savvy moggy links this all together, who time-shares between Zoé and Nico without the other knowing. A CAT IN PARIS was the surprise Oscar nominated Best Animated Feature at the 2012 ceremony. It was a bold choice, as the animation is hardly slick, having a more stylised, crude, simple, retro feel. The look is hypnotic in places. I’m not sure about the sounds though. The English language (in the UK release version) voice acting is a bit uneven, ranging from the clumsy to the funny. And the jazzy score at times grates.
The pacing is solid, and events progress quickly to the almost inevitable resolution. There is an odd morality to A CAT IN PARIS; a film clearly aimed at youngsters (while providing mild diversion to adults), where different kinds of thieves are differentiated – those that are kind and those that are not – receiving opposing outcomes as a consequence it seems. Depending on how conservative you are, this may sit easy, or not. There is also no shying away from some mild violence as the cat kills a lizard and presents it to Zoé, or scratches various people regularly, drawing blood. However, considering the savagery that is in some “family” films, this is definitely of the tame variety.
The ending is super-trite, and if you brush past that, A CAT IN PARIS is not at all a chore to watch.