Cat in Paris

Film: A Cat in Paris (Une Vie De Chat)
Released in 2010
Created by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol
Gébéka Films

Summary: A girl named Zoe, who hasn’t spoken since her father died at the hands of a dangerous criminal, discovers her cat is helping a local thief, and in so doing becomes involved in intrigue greater than she or her detective mother could have anticipated.

I came across this short animated movie when I was looking for something I could watch with my daughter on a day snowed in at home. Initially, I was drawn in by the word “cat” in the title and by the art style in the thumbnail, since my daughter likes cats and I like to not be bored by animation that one typically has to deal with when watching kids’ shows. My choice ultimately paid off, because I was entertained by the story and the interesting not-quite-cubist drawings (clearly done by hand), and my daughter had a cat to point at. Win-win.

This film’s story is entertaining and sweet but not far out of the common way. I don’t think an unusual storyline is a requirement for an unusual or exceptional film, however. Some of the best stories simply retell, in new ways, stories that have been told many times before, and this film does so masterfully. A Cat in Paris takes what would be a good story on its own and embellishes it with touches of visual metaphor and lovingly drawn animation. Characters’ bodies move in realistic ways, except when they don’t–they stretch and bend and leap, cat-like, over the rooftops of Paris. The best of these embellishments are the surreal moments, during which the film departs from objective reality and ventures into the psyches of its characters.

Inner demons come to life, scents become extensions of their owners, and an enormous sculpture stomps through the streets of Paris to reach the villain, Victor Costa. Because it is not always clear that these are hallucinations, you, the viewer, are carried along into the minds of the characters without realizing that’s where you’re going.

In the end, the cat is just a cat, and the thief simply a thief, but this film is not simply a kids’ movie. I recommend it to anyone stuck in on a snowy day or anyone looking for a artistic trip without leaving the house.