Prickly on the outside with a soft centre; The Hedgehog is a charming French tale about a gruff, middle aged janitor and a deeply bored 11 year old on the verge of suicide.
Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) who intends to kill herself on her next birthday is fascinated by art and philosophy. She documents her bourgeois family whom she despises and the neighbours of the smart Parisian apartment block in which she lives with her father’s old camcorder. We see the hypocritical adult world through the eyes of the lonely Paloma with often hilarious observations.
…a brisk, touching comedy…
She finds a kindred spirit in the buildings janitor, Renee (Josiane Balasko). At first prickly, Renee conceals her love of literature and sensitivity to art as she regards herself as a hopeless old frump. She is suspicious when a handsome Japanese businessman (Togo Igawa) moves into the building and is immediately taken by her. The suicidal young girl’s pessimistic view of life begins to change as she watches a beautiful friendship develop.
The film offers standout performances from the enigmatic Igawa and the always watchable Balasko. Adapted from the novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Mona Achache‘s debut as writer/director is a brisk, touching comedy with a shocking climax.
…a shocking climax.
A film that reminds us to not judge a book by it’s cover and that friendships can be found beneath the prickliest of exteriors.
Images courtesy of The Hedgehog