LIFF26 - Ernest And Celestine - Cinema Review

'The film starts and ends with Celestine drawing, a passion and skill you get the impression Ernest And Celestine respects a lot more than many other films.'

A fairly simple animation, crafted with a lot of skill, Ernest And Celestine gets by on its not insubstantial heart and its incredible hand-drawn look, which in this day and age appears all too rarely.

With an easy to follow subtext of prejudice and judgement, Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner's film isn't going to win any awards for its deep and meaningful content. No matter. The tale of Ernest the bear (Lambert Wilson) and pint-sized mouse Celestine (Pauline Brunner), is involving, gorgeous to look at entirely satisfying in nature, despite its story, dragged from the drawer marked 'typical children's fable'.

Perhaps though, there is something that dares to do more here too. Celestine is a repressed artist, forced to go out and perform a manual job. Ernest is a down-and-out stage performer, forced into crime by the apathy of those who pass him by in the street. Aubier, Patar and Renner seem clearly here to be talking about the limitations imposed on those who work in the arts, particularly perhaps animation, when that animation has not been birthed from the inside of a laptop. The film starts and ends with Celestine drawing, a passion and skill you get the impression Ernest And Celestine respects a lot more than many other films.

The film is in French with subtitles which, coupled with the traditional animation, makes you suspect it won't get backed by huge amounts of UK cinemas, a crying shame, especially seeing as Disney's last attempt at this, The Princess And The Frog, did not scoop as huge box office rewards as it deserved either. Like that film, the market for this may well be found at home, where you suspect Ernest And Celestine will look sumptuous on Blu-ray.

Some technical problems do crop up. The sound mix, for example, isn't weighted heavily enough towards the music, which plays a part in the narrative and cannot be heard clearly all too often. It's a cold viewer though who focuses on that rather than the charm on screen and Aubier, Patar and Renner's film should be enough to warm many a heart if you can find a way to see it around Christmas time.




The 26th Leeds International Film Festival runs from 1st November to 18th November at venues around the city. Programming includes several UK premières, the popular Night Of and Day Of The Dead and a selection of competition films in the Official Selection.

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