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Despite living in separate worlds, in which one world fears the inhabitants of another, a mouse and a bear find themselves developing an almost parent/ child friendship.
Review (with Spoilers)
This was an academy award nominee amongst The Wind Rises, and the overrated Frozen, and unfortunately wasn’t available to me around the time of the ceremony. But after watching it, I’m starting to think perhaps I should have a stronger interest in French cinema. For in the movies I’ve seen thus far from the country, they all have a beautiful complexity, even horror films like Martyrs, which perhaps solely comes from being too accustomed to America cinema. Leading to the question: despite an Oscar nomination, is it worth seeing this film?
Characters & Story
In a world segregated between bears and mice, bears living on the surface and mice in the sewers, prejudice is rampant between the two. Mice children are taught bears are ferocious and deadly, while bears see mice as humans do: uninvited greedy little guests. But, despite all this, mice need bears for their teeth are good replacements for theirs. As for bears, well they don’t really get anything out of this deal.
But teeth are what lead to the main plot of the story as one young artistic orphan named Celestine (Pauline Brunner) finds herself befriending a poor musician named Ernest (Lamber Wilson). And what starts with him trying to eat her turns into them looking out for each other, loving each other, and finding each other to fit their needs. Celestine gives Ernest the love and encouragement he needs, and Celestine receives the sense of family and a home in return. Making their crime filled journey to their own personal bliss quite the tale.
Oh, where to begin? There is the art style, story, the characters, and the fact it packs such a well-developed story in only a little over an hour. But perhaps what should be highlighted the most is that as cute as the story is between this Celestine and Ernest, it also creates a good learning tool for talking about prejudice with kids, as well as why people in poverty steal, why people panhandle and beg, and the importance of social services. For in the movie, often times there are examples of how prejudice is learned as shown by the stories of how dangerous bears are, and how everyone is pushed to conform to prejudice beliefs over their own perceptions.
Which makes Celestine interacting with Ernest a good tool for teaching kids to question what others whisper and say about others. For, using examples from the movie, Celestine was warned her whole life about bears, and yet Ernest became perhaps one of the nicest animals she has ever met. Then, during later scenes, it shows examples of negative peer pressure and how simply following along, and not speaking out, could lead to someone being judged unjustly for something they did, or did not, do. Making, overall, what looks like a simple kid film greatly complex.
Honestly, the only thing worth critiquing is after the “crime spree” of Celestine and Ernest, I was confused how come the ever fearful mice were able to take a bear Ernest’s size into custody. Outside of that little issue, though, you’d be hard pressed to find something wrong with this.
Overall: Worth Seeing
Complex animated films, which are kid friendly, are sort of rare. So when films like this come out and can either be seen as simple cute films, or learning tools, they certainly deserve praise. And that is why I’m labeling this as “Worth Seeing.”