7:00 PM, 6th September, 2014
In the underground world of rodents the children are told stories of the big bad bears that reside in the outside world. It just so happens that young Celestine, the mouse-dentist-in-training, finds herself in a predicament: a tooth hunting expedition goes wrong and she finds herself face to face with a grumpy and hungry bear.
From what could have been a tragedy (of becoming bear food), little Celestine and the out-of-sorts bear musician Ernest find themselves forming an unlikely bond. And so, the friendship blooms and the adventure begins!
What really makes Ernest & Celestine a gem of a film is the fact that it doesn’t delude itself by delving into deep complex intricacies or self-consciously attempting to simultaneously appeal to adults with sly references or dark humour. Instead, the depiction of a unique friendship despite disapproval from both bear and mouse society in a funny world of talking animals is honest and simple and heartwarmingly beautiful.
Perhaps what makes it most inviting is the warmth and cosiness of its visuals – the elegance of rich but gentle watercolours and the hand drawn simplicity of its animation naturally add to its charm. The drawings aren’t overly elaborate and it preserves the minimalist style of the picture books the film is based on. This lovely French adaptation is sure to find a way into the hearts of children and adults alike.
8:29 PM, 6th September, 2014
Along comes another film originating from a book: The Hundred-Foot Journey is based on Richard C. Morais’s novel of the same name.
Hassan (Dayal) grew up with his grandfather’s modest restaurant in Mumbai, with memories of spices, curry and trips to the local markets. When tragedy forces them to leave India, they finally settle down in the small French town of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val. There, the Kadam family open an inexpensive Indian eatery a hundred feet across from a renowned French restaurant that has a Michelin star.
Run by the ice-queen chef Madame Mallory (Mirren), the restaurant Le Saule Pleureur, where the President of France dines sometimes, has been her life since the passing of her husband.
What starts as rivalry soon turns into a mentoring relationship when Madame Mallory recognises Hassan’s brilliance as a chef and takes him under her wing. The end result is a scrumptious feast of magic created by the fusion of two cultures.
Directed by Lasse Hallström, who also directed Chocolat, one might say there is a pattern here: newcomers in a small foreign town, a food-related theme, some form of protesting and, ultimately, an all round feel-good film.
Moral of the story: don’t come to this film hungry. It can only serve to make you rush out craving French or Indian food – or both!
Xin Yi Tan