Ernest & Celestine

March 31, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Posted in 2014 | 1 Comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ½

This beautiful little French film is actually a couple of years old and was one of the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Film for last year.  However, it has only now arrived in wide release here in the U.S. but, for anyone who likes animated films, it was worth the wait.  “Ernest & Celestine” is a lovely example of the classic animated movies of another era and serves to really show how empty films like “Frozen” are.  The backgrounds are beautiful watercolors that evoke mood and a sense of place that digital animation simply cannot.  Likewise, the characters are joyfully simple, sweet and wholly likable.  Unlike modern American animated films, there is no sarcasm or “hipness” here.  That is not to say the film is without humor.  In fact, it is quite funny but in a gentle slapstick and heartwarming sort of way.  The story, about a bear and a mouse who become friends, has a moral about not judging those who are different but it is very softly played and never feels preachy.  In the end, what sold me most is what always draws me to an animated film: the artwork.  The soft, dreamy watercolors created such a lovely mood and generated a pleasant nostalgia in me (it reminded me so much of the old animation I used to see on British TV in the late 70s).  While similar in look to other recent French animated films, “The Triplets of Belleville” and “The Illusionist,” this movie has a softer, more washed out look that lends itself well to the story.  Make no mistake, this film does not touch the brilliance of those other two, both of which are true animation classics, but it is a delightful diversion, none-the-less.  I saw the English version, rather than the subtitled one and I’m glad I did.  The fantastic cast (Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H Macy, Nick Offerman, Jeffrey Wright and Megan Mullally) do a wonderful job of bringing their characters to life and allowed me to focus on the images rather than on reading.  In a world of overly clever animated films, this old fashioned gem was exactly what I needed.

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  1. I was so upset I couldn’t watch this movie before the Oscars. It wasn’t in any theaters, and was impossible to find online. Definitely on my watch list


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