might be a happy morning for a Belgian bear and mouse. Based on Gabrielle Vincent’s children’s
books, it is considered another serious animated Oscar contender from GKIDS. Regardless of what the Academy did (can you
tell this piece was pre-written?), Benjamin Renner, Stéphane Aubier & Vincent
Patar’s Ernest and Celestine (trailer here) will hold the
distinction of being one of the first two films selected for the inaugural Sundance
Kids section at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, kicking off tonight in Park
live above ground, in a human-like state of middle class respectability. The mice live below, toiling away in a Dickensian
subterranean city. Neither Ernest the
busking bear nor Celestine the artistic mouse fit comfortably within their
respective communities. Like most mice,
Celestine is expected to scavenge coveted bear’s teeth from the surface world
for the mice dentists, who sit atop the social order down below. Naturally, she is terrible at it. However, a chance encounter with Ernest leads
to some rare cross-species collaboration—teeth for Celestine and food for
word of their scandalous association leads to pariah status for them both. Yet, for a while they live happily together
as outlaws in Ernest’s remote forest bungalow.
Of course, neither the world of mice nor bears will be content until
they are apprehended. Still, that will
be the best opportunity for E&C to teach them a lesson in tolerance.
animation has an elegant old European feel that is refreshingly nostalgic. While
sometimes the message is laid on with a heavy hand, the vibe is usually quite
gentle and sweet. Frankly, one would
never expect such a graceful and well intentioned film from Aubier and Patar,
the team behind the anarchic bedlam of the Town Called Panic franchise, but here it is—and it is indeed a fine work of
animation. Their figures are expressive
and endearing, but not cloyingly cute.
Jazz cellist Vincent Courtois’s lightly buoyant score also reinforces
the sophisticated atmosphere.
only the celebrity English version of C&E
will play at Sundance (featuring Forest Whitaker as Ernest), its announced
March release will also include select subtitled screenings of the original
French (with Lambert Wilson gruffly giving voice to Ernest). Visually it is an absolute charmer and the
characterization is strong enough to overcome the not so subtle teaching
moments. Recommended for all children and
fans of animation, Ernest and Celestine screens
this Saturday (1/18) and next Saturday (1/25) in Park City, as well as this
Sunday (1/19) in Salt Lake, as part of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Labels: Animated films, Belgian Cinema, GKIDS, Sundance '14