wed 22/01/2020

DVD: A Cat in Paris | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: A Cat in Paris

DVD: A Cat in Paris

Resourceful feline outperforms humans in French animation

He only comes out at night: Dino the cat on the prowl

As a refreshing change from Disney-style hyper-tech 3D animated blockbusters, A Cat in Paris offers a modest story of adventure and intrigue on a pleasingly human, as well as feline, scale. The titular character is a faintly sinister black-and-orange tomcat called Dino, an accomplished lizard-hunter who lives in a Parisian apartment with Zoe and her mother Jeanne. Or at least he does by day. After dark, he slips out onto the rooftops and window ledges of Paris, and becomes the accomplice of Nico, the notorious cat burglar.  

Writers Jacques-Rémy Girerd and Alain Gagnol (who also co-directs) have sought to inject some emotional ballast into the yarn by making Jeanne a police superintendent trying to come to terms with - and avenge - the death of her policeman husband at the hands of despicable mobster Victor Costa, a trauma which has also left Zoe unwilling or unable to speak. Dino is her only real friend, and Zoe's sense of being besieged in an uncaring world is intensified by the presence of the cat-hating housekeeper, Claudine.

While the visual style works especially well for the cat, it leaves the human characters quite literally two dimensional

It's a serviceable set-up for a children's story, and the animations consciously hark back to a simpler, gentler era. But while the visual style works especially well for the cat, it leaves the human characters quite literally two dimensional. This effect is exacerbated by the fact that the DVD's default setting gives you the dubbed English dialogue version, and the English voices are either unsympathetic or unsuitable. In particular, Costa's gang of lunkheads barely even qualify as stereotypes, with two of them being given hopelessly bad American accents.

The French version with English subtitles feels like a better fit, but even this can't overcome structural shortcomings. Costa never resembles a proper villain, merely a knockabout caricature, which sabotages the notion of him as the cruel bête noire of Zoe and her family. Nico the burglar morphs with bewildering suddenness into nice guy and romantic lead. And while the depiction of Paris features the Eiffel Tower and a cliffhanging denouement on the gargoyles of Notre Dame, the city often looks more like Cannes than the French capital.

Its enjoyable, nevertheless, and there's a superb jazz-and-orchestral score by Serge Besset. You just have to massage your expectations downwards. 

After dark, Dino slips out onto the rooftops of Paris, and becomes the accomplice of Nico, the notorious cat burglar


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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