- Director: Mona Achache
- Genre: Drama
- Details: France/Italy / 100mins (TBC).
- Release Date: 02/09/2011
Despite living in a plush Parisian apartment, Paloma is not happy. She turns on her Hi-8 camera and calmly informs us that she plans to kill herself on her twelfth birthday, one hundred and sixty five days away. The reasons, she says, are numerous but basically it's because life is absurd - we're born, we live and we die: what's the point? She will make a film between now and then to justify her reasons and steals one anti-depressant pill a day from her mother's box to escape detection. Meanwhile, Paloma's lonely and grumpy janitor Renée (Balasako) and her new neighbour, the wealthy, kind-hearted Kakuro (Igawa), oblivious to their young friend's plans, strive to change her mind by falling in love.
The Hedgehog is really two movies: Paloma's planned suicide and the burgeoning romance between Renée and Kakuro. Paloma's family - made of her neurotic mother (Anne Brochet) who is always only moments away from tears, a distant, business-like father (Wladimir Yordanoff) and self-absorbed older sister (Sarah Lepicard) - and how they interact are the main reasons for Paloma's plans but why these characters are the way they are isn't explored. First time director Mona Achache, adapting Muriel Barbery's novel, isn't really interested in the family dynamics - what she is interested in is the romance between Renée and Kakuro and they are the only reason to catch The Hedgehog. A tender, cuddly subplot, the romance will make you feel all warm inside and Balasako is stunning in the role. When the romantic scenes give way to Paloma's morbid plot, The Hedgehog loses what works.
Far too wordy, and poetic, and cynical for an eleven-year-old to be believable, her musings on life sound more like an old depressed philosopher than a kid who has yet to experience anything of note outside that impressive apartment or read a serious book on the subjects she profusely talks about. Garance le Guillermic turns in a cute performance but she's playing a character who's hard to get on board with.
It's hard to pin down what it's all about too. A connection with others is the reason for being? Love conquers cynicism? Paloma points out towards the close that 'the meaning of this is lost on me' - the same could be said for the entire film.
Review by Gavin Burke | 09:00 | Friday 2nd September 2011 | Movie Review
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