The Hedgehog

| 3 August , 2010 | Reply

Keeva Stratton, Quip Creative

Directed by: Mona Achache
Starring: Josiane Balasko, Togo Igawa, Garance Le Guillermic

The Hedgehog takes you into the world of 11 year old Paloma, the daughter of a wealthy French family living in one of Paris\’ most prestigious apartment buildings. Paloma appears to have a desirable existence, but through her uniquely observant lens she sees that money doesn\’t make you interesting, or likable – her mother is addicted to antidepressants and finds company with her plants; her father is stressed, overworked and resigned to life\’s banality; and her older sister is emotionally fragile and treats everyone as her underlings. As Paloma\’s displeasure with her surroundings grows, she makes the decision to end her own life, thus beginning a countdown to her intended suicide that is scheduled to take place on her next birthday.

Paloma decides to film her daily encounters to form a detailed diary of why she intends to kill herself – and in so doing, we are introduced to two intriguing characters. The concierge Renee puts on a rough facade to match her role as cleaner and door person, while hiding her obsession with literature, and indeed wealth of cultural knowledge. Then there is Mr. Ozu, the wealthy Japanese widower who is not constrained by traditional notions of place or class, who instead takes it upon himself to get to know both Renee and Paloma. The building of these relationships is nothing short of beautiful, and forms the basis for a truly magical and inspiring story that will blow you away.

This is a film that is heavily dependent on the talents of its cast and in the strength of its script, both of which deliver in spades. The performances on the three lead characters are strong; and especially impressive is the performance of young Garance Le Guillermic, who is both mature, warm and convincing as the suicidal Paloma.

Based on the novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, this is an insightful piece of cinema that is determined to unravel class-based stereotypes and highlight the extraordinary moments that happen in ordinary lives. While the premise seems a little dire, I can assure you that it is far from grim. Poetic and insightful, intelligent and moving, this is a small film with an enormous heart.

The Hedgehog is now showing in limited release.


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Category: Film & TV

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