A Cat In Paris
A CAT IN PARIS (UNE VIE DE CHAT) is the simple, beautifully executed story of Dino, a cat with at least two lives. By day, he belongs with Zoe (Oriane Zani), a little girl who has not spoken since her father was murdered, to the consternation of her grieving mother, Jeanne (Dominique Blanc). Jeanne, who works for the police and is intent on finding her husband’s murderer, leaves Zoe with the housekeeper most of the time. By night Dino joins Nico (Bruno Salomone), a lonely cat burglar who effortlessly scales the roofs of Paris, entering establishments and stealing valuables. Dino’s lives become entwined when Nico stumbles into the path of fiendish Victor Costa (Jean Benguigui), the man who shot Zoe’s father.
Serge Bessett’s jazzy score simmers with energy, dappled with light and dark…
Uncomplicated to follow and entirely suitable for young viewers, A CAT IN PARIS has plenty to charm older audiences as well. Co-directed with Jean-Loup Felicioli (the pair have made numerous shorts together), Alain Gagnol’s script is layered with cinematic references, shadowy noir villains, dream sequences and hallucinations. The choppy, overtly two-dimensional hand-drawn animations move with a slippery grace through an artist’s Paris, against a backdrop of window-boxes, chimney pots, and famous French landmarks. Serge Bessett’s jazzy score simmers with energy, dappled with light and dark scattered as skillfully as it is in Gagnol’s landscapes.
Although brief at just over an hour, A CAT IN PARIS maintains narrative integrity: it’s a picture-book come to life, rich with inventive detail, yet the film never overreaches the story. Dino comforts Zoe by bringing her freshly slain lizards; he protects her, freely sinking his teeth and claws into her enemies. Every night he nearly sends the neighbor’s small, yapping dog (a perfectly rendered characterization) into a conniption just by passing on the wall. This care to develop the small moments allows the climactic final scenes a dramatic depth and possibly does more to extend the scope of the film than merely lengthening the running time would have done. The result is a satisfying tale for all ages.