The fact that you’re reading this specific review, on this specific site means that the chances are good that you’re from The United States of America. Right? Sure, you have the right to vote and access to free speech and all the other shit that comes with our super power, first world status. However, it also means that you’ve probably been buried by propaganda and internet blitzes, brainwashing you into a false belief that movies can only be made with computer generated graphics and over the top special effect placed over sub par storytelling.
Mona Achache’s directorial debut, The Hedgehog proves otherwise.
Providing a journey concretely flowing through storytelling, The Hedgehog is a perfect example of a coming-of-age flick. Told mostly from the perspectives of eleven year old Paloma Josse and two residences of her apartment complex, Renée Michel and Kakuro Ozu, the film gathers and holds the attention of the audience through the creation and examination of these three extremely eccentric characters.
Paloma for example, who serves as the film’s narrator, stands out throughout the film as an extremely intellectual and gifted girl. Sadly however, her talents often go unnoticed by those who surround her. It is because of this mundane and cookie-cutter existence that has been presented to her by her rich and business-oriented parents, that she has decided to kill herself. She will do so on her 12th birthday.
She vows to live life to the fullest until that point as “planning to die doesn’t mean I let myself go like a rotten vegetable. What matters isn’t the fact of dying or when you die. It’s what you’re doing at that precise moment.”
Meanwhile, we are introduced to side story of Renée Michel, a somewhat plain and introverted apartment manager, existing mainly for her cat and her books. While hidden from society, she possesses a large heart, often being the only one who’ll connect and care for Paloma. Her life takes a drastic shift with the arrival of Kakuro Ozu, who moves into the apartment complex. He takes notice of her depth and hidden culture through the name of her cat Leo (named for Leo Tolstoy). As it turns out, his cats, Kitty and Levin, also are named after characters in Anna Karenina. Because of this, Ozu reaches out to Michel by leaving her a gift. The act leaves her confused.
They proceed forward with plans to spend time together. The beautiful scene in which Renée prepares for the first date by getting a dress and going to the salon is a flawless transformation scene. Unlike Hollywood, the scene remains believable, with Renée remaining insecure and awkward, regardless of the improvements. Director Mona Achache avoids the cliche She’s All That type film, where a touch of makeup and a new dress sends the cat lady towards prom queen status.
Mona Achache also does a great job creating a convincing first film. With crisp, well edited clips, fused together convincingly the flick serves as a quality watch, comparable to the dialog driven format of Amelie. Building upon itself as the film progresses, Mona Achache supplies her audience with a heavy twist at the end of the story, just about the time she cradles them comfortably in her palm. Honestly, one would never guess, having watched this film, that it would serve as Mona Achache’s jumping off point. With that being the case, I can not help but fantasize about her career and where it will end up. I feel we might have a discovered the next big thing.
Therefore, I’m going to go out on a limb and advising our readers to do something that I very rarely do. I’m going to ask every person reading this article to do the following: help this film succeed.
You can do so in the following ways:
1. Call your theaters and request a showing. The more screens this film appears on, the better it will do. The more people who call and request a showing, the more screens it can be found on.
2. Spread the word of mouth. This can be done as simply as reposting this article and as complexly as reviewing it yourself. Regardless, the more people who know it exists, the more likely it is to be seen.
3. Attend the film yourself. (Kansas City, this film will be opening at The Tivoli Theater starting September 23). Very rarely is a film worth going to the theater for. I promise you that this one is. Reward them for that. Pay them for making something quality. If you don’t, the chances of the director to be successful the next time are lessened. That would be a tragedy.
Please don’t let this film be swept under the rug unnoticed.
I give The Hedgehog 5 “Goldfish” out of 5