Tuesday, March 25, 2014

[Review] Ernest & Celestine

If you're burnt out (or Frozen-ed out) on the massive hype of Disney's latest powerhouse, and you're looking for a lower-key animated story that is actually more superb, then Ernest & Celestine is a the one. This French-Belgian import recently released in the U.S., and it was a sleeper Oscar nominee in the animated category last year, but it may very well be the best, yet most overlooked of the bunch.

In the small world of Ernest & Celestine, the mice live exclusively underground, and the bears live exclusively above ground. Both animals are taught to fear each other and avoid possible contact. Celestine, our main mouse, is a a curious optimist, dreaming of becoming friends with a bear one day. Meanwhile, Ernest, our main bear, is just waking from hibernation, and he's beyond hungry. One night, Celestine journeys up into bear territory in order to steal teeth for the mice dentistry (this is her job). Ernest stumbles upon her, and his first thought is "MEAL." With some quick talking, Celestine convinces Ernest not to eat her, and agrees to help him break into a candy store. The two get into some trouble, things go awry in their respective towns, and they end up fleeing and hiding away in Ernest's quaint forest shack.

Finding a lot in common with each other, they form a sweet bond of friendship. This renders one of the most heartwarming images that will appear on screen this year (it involves the two cuddling under an umbrella next to a candle as snow falls through a hole in the roof). But the cheeriness stops when they learn they're on the MOST WANTED list and are being hunted by both the mice and bear police. Celestine and Ernest must pull off something special to overcome the situation.

Ernest and Celestine is as charming and profoundly cute as it seems on paper. It's a miniature and intimate tale, but the themes of tolerance and breaking boundaries are conveyed gently and effortlessly on a universal scale, all within a brisk 75 minute running time. The squiggly hand-drawn style animation gives the film the delightful look of a children's book coming to life, and the watercolor hues are alluring in every frame. Quiet and poetic in its approach, the soothing piano accompaniment is a perfect musical touch.

Don't let anything stop you from seeing this wonderful film.


No comments:

Post a Comment