A Cat in Paris
A Cat in Paris
Directors: Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol
Writers: Alain Gagnol, Jacques-Remi Girerd
Voice Cast: Dominique Blanc, Bruno Salomone, Jean Benguigui, Bernadette Lafont, Oriane Zani, Bernard Bouillon, Patrick Ridremont, Jacques Ramade, Jean-Pierre Yvars, Patrick Descamps
Synopsis: By day a child's beloved companion... by night, a rooftop-roaming thief! Presenting Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli's captivating new film, from France's most acclaimed animation studio, Gebeka. Our tale's hero is Dino, a common house cat who lives a double life. He's the loyal pet of Zoe, a lonely little girl who lives with her busy single mother Jeanne, a police officer. But after sundown, he clambers over the rooftops of Paris in the company of Nico, a skilled thief with a big heart.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Perhaps one of the most under rated animated films of last year
It's very unfortunate that "A Cat in Paris" isn't getting a non limited theatrical release, in the United States, as this is a treat to watch for animation lovers out there. At the risk of sounding very conceited, I consider myself something of an animation connoisseur. Sure, some people prefer the western surrealistic style in the United States, while others prefer the more intricate detailed, but sometimes amazingly abstract style of Japanese anime. Hell, there's even a select group of fans that prefer artistic cartoon films like "The Illusionist" and etc. The point is that every animation fan has their own preference on how they like their cartoons. For me personally, I try to like all of them about the same.
Although I will admit that it wasn't easy finding a place online to see this movie, as I had to dig through thousands of websites. However, it was definitely worth the effort, as I did find it online eventually. I guess having a non existent social life has to have some benefits....hooray? Okay, I better get on with this review, as I'm starting to become sad now....
Anyway, I have to say that although true 2-D animation is becoming a bit of a rarity these days among theatrically released films, it's very refreshing to see that it hasn't gone away completely. Sure, CGI animation can be great, and sometimes far exceed levels of realism that many of us have yet to fathom. However, that's not to say 2-D animation doesn't have it's own allure as well. Unlike CGI animation, 2-D animation can sometimes present more of an organic feel to it that CGI can't really duplicate. Plus, 2-D animation can also leads itself to show various representations of art; either through complex detail like we see in some anime shows such as "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex", or it can be a work of art through it's elaborate simplicity like we see in "The Secret of Kells." In this area particularly, 2-D animation can far exceed CGI animation visually; as sometimes simple changes like designing a cartoon show/movie where there are no black outlines surrounding your characters, while solely using broad color schemes to represent them, can have a very visual artistic effect (i.e. Samurai Jack).
As for how this relates to "A Cat in Paris", it has a lot to do with it actually. As I said earlier, 2-D animation can be a work of art depending on how it's used, and "A Cat in Paris" definitely is a visual work of art, in every sense of the word. Sure, the story may not be the best among all the film nominated for "Best Animated Feature", but the visuals alone are enough warrant a nomination from the Academy Awards.
For those art lovers out there, you might be familiar with the character designs in this movie, as it seems to borrow influences from Post-Impressionist work of French artists like Georges Seurat and Henri Rousseau, while adding in a bit of influence from Amedeo Modigliani for good measure. In terms of visuals, "A Cat in Paris" is a work of art, and I have to say it's arguably more artistically impressive than both "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Puss in Boots" if you want my honest opinion.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying those other two movies were poorly animated, but the animation in those movies are very common and generic, from what we've already seen in their previous films. In "Kung Fu Panda 2", the visuals are basically about the same as what we saw in the first film, as the only real difference is that they upgraded the references to Chinese culture. And in "Puss in Boots", it was visually interesting, but I fail to see how the animation in that movie was any better than what we saw in the previous "Shrek" films; hence it makes a daring 2-D animated film like "A Cat in Paris" look all that much more visually interesting.
Not only does "A Cat in Paris" capture your attention visually, but you almost have to love the color schemes and character designs for being so unique. I especially loved the shading around the characters themselves, as it sort of invokes a certain film noir feel to it.
As for the story aspect of this movie, I will admit the story is rather simplistic, but it's still very engaging nonetheless. For starters, the movie is only about an hour long, and I know that would automatically send a white flag to some people, as the running time would suggest there's really not much of a story, or it's going to be a rushed animated feature like "American Tail: Fievel Goes West." However, with the way the story is presented, it actually turns out just fine anyway.
The movie takes place in Paris, France. As the title of this movie suggests, it does involve a cat named Dino living in Paris. No pun intended. However, the cat leads a double life as it would seem. By day, he cuddles by a little girl named Zoe, who hasn't spoken since her father was murdered by a vicious mafia boss named Victor Costa. Zoe's mom is named Jeanne, who happens to be a police officer. At times, Jeanne is often haunted by the images of Victor Costa, as she's never been able to get over her husband's murder as it would seem.
And by night though, Dino works with a highly skilled thief named Nico. Although one would think from reading this plot synopsis that Dino is the main character, but the truth is that he's not. No, he's merely the plot device to move the story along. As for Nico, he may be a thief, but he's a thief with a heart of gold. In fact, think of him as something of a mix of Robin Hood meets the video game character, Sly Cooper. He's a thief, but he's still a good person, and cares about others (i.e. Robin Hood). And he's extremely slick, agile, and able to leap over rooftops effortlessly (i.e. Sly Cooper).
Anyway, to get back to the rest of this story, Dino brings Zoe a valuable bracelet that he stole the previous night. Naturally, Zoe's mom decides to hand it to one of her subordinates back at the police station to do an investigation, on where it might have come from.
All this leads to Zoe deciding to follow Dino, to see where he goes every night. Unfortunately, she ends up stumbling onto a private conversation involving her nanny and Victor Costa himself, as it turns out that she works for him. Needless to say, the mafia members discover her, and for obvious reasons, they want her dead. Scared for her life, as she tries to run away, but she's unable to get very far. However, as luck would have it, Nico and Dino somehow find out about her predicament, and decide to risk their lives against the mafia to save her.
Throughout the rest of the night, an elaborate mystery thriller unfolds that'll hook audiences from beginning to end. Although the story may seem rather simplistic, but it's actually rather well told in it's simplicity. In fact, it's amazing how the movie manages to combine the family genre of film with a dark mystery thriller concept so easily, without the need to make it overly dark like "The Adventures of Tintin" did. No, "A Cat in Paris" seems to hit that perfect balance just right.
Overall, if you ever have a chance to see this movie someday in theaters, or on DVD/Blue Ray, then I would definitely encourage you to see it; especially if you love animated films as much I do. "A Cat in Paris" may not be the biggest animated film out there, but it's definitely one of the more unique ones; hence it definitely makes it that much more alluring to watch at a rating of three out of four.