A Cat In Paris kicked off this year’s Discovery Film Festival, a local film festival initiated by DCA Dundee aimed squarely at introducing children to world cinema. A deliberately old-fashioned animation, A Cat In Paris proves to be the perfect remedy to the mass-produced CGI that’s become the norm over the past two decades.
Propelled into silence after the death of her father to crook Victor Costa (Jean Benguigui), Zoé (Oriane Zani) leads a quiet life with her cat, Dino. With her mother (Dominique Blanc) too busy with work to spend time with her, Zoé ends up following Dino as he slinks off at night to join the dastardly burglar Nico (Bruno Salomone). Soon, she finds herself embroiled in a game of cat a mouse between Costa, his henchmen and the police force hellbent on apprehending him.
The story, dreamed up by screenwriter Alain Gagnol as an attempt to create a thriller suitable for children, is simple, but wonderfully interlaced with rousing chase sequences and hard-hitting themes of love, loss and vengeance. The intimate relationship between Zoé and her furtive cat, Dino, heighten it to a stimulating drama fit for all ages. A punchy score ensures the narrative hits the right notes.
Jean-Loup Felicioli and co-director Gagnol’s sumptuous hand-drawn animation makes for a refreshing alternative to the Pixar/Dreamworks onslaught of recent years. Every building, character and piece of terrain is infused with a level of amour – possibly due to the amount of time it took the animators to render each frame – that not only reflects the directors’ fervor and dedication, but also makes it such a joy to behold.
A Cat In Paris is a remarkably spirited, richly layered and heartwarming piece of animation at its most simplistic and stunning.