Tuesday, September 06, 2011

the hedgehog

I have to admit that I had some reservations about seeing this film. It’s “loosely” based on one of my favourite books: “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery and, as always on such occasions, I didn’t want the film to spoil the book. The book is beautifully written from the perspective of two intelligent individuals (the rather grumpy concierge of an apartment building and the precocious eleven year-old daughter, Paloma, of a privileged family who occupy one of the apartments) and one of its endearing qualities is its graceful writing style. For me, Mona Achache’s film (with Josiane Balasko and Togo Igawa very well cast as the concierge and the new, wealthy Japanese tenant) doesn’t capture the magic (or literary quality) of the book – I found Paloma’s film-making, in lieu of her journal-writing in the book, somewhat redundant. It was also sad (but, I suppose, inevitable) that the film missed out so much of the early part of the book – which conveyed important background to her character and her daily routine. However, I did feel that the film very successfully conveyed Paloma’s love of Japanese art and culture.
Like the book, I found the film uplifting, poignant, encouraging and optimistic.
It certainly wasn’t one of the best films I’ve ever seen but, nevertheless, it was charming and watchable.

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