A Cat’s Life Image

A Cat’s Life

By Terry Sherwood | April 2, 2024

NOW IN THEATERS! The Wonderful World of Disney early evening television show was a moment in most homes. I have fading memories of watching the original The Incredible Journey with my mom on that program. Waxing nostalgia can lead to rose-colored glasses, yet the delightful A Cat’s Life, written and directed by Guillaume Maidatchevsky and co-written by Michaël Souhaité, is family viewing that brings to mind those wistful times of families gathering together to watch something that would appeal to everyone.

A young girl, Clémence (Capucine Sainson-Fabresse), rescues a kitten found in her Parisian attic. She names it Lou, and they quickly form an unbreakable bond. This bond is realistic, as pet owners know that quadruped dependents become part of the family for years, seeing one through tough and good times. Lou, like Clémence, is timid and naïve about how the world can rapidly change. Clémence’s family ventures to the countryside for a vacation, where Lou’s curiosity leads to adventures in the woods that the curious cat must face head-on. This mirrors Clémence, who must face her parent’s imminent divorce.

The city of Paris and the rural settings of A Cat’s Life are not just settings; they are characters in their own right, lovingly photographed and reminiscent of Netflix’s Emily in Paris. The French have a way of doing this style of live-action film, such as The Bear, among other successes, that uses exquisite photography to capture the mood of the characters. The cats and dogs, both large and small, Parisian drain gutters with filled rats, and later, the lush green forbidding forest are all either things to marvel at or be scared of. The picture also has little dialogue, enhancing the storytelling with the images and making it good for children.

“…Lou’s curiosity leads to adventures in the woods that the curious cat must face…”

Clémence and Lou are both in adolescence and in the pursuit of independence. In many ways, Maidatchevsky and Souhaité show that cats adopt you just as you adopt them. Lou’s adventurous escapades and Clémence’s evolving companionship needs, particularly when her parents announce their divorce, are transition points to adulthood. While the basic story and characterizations make this seem like a simple film, there is more in play in this world than initially expected.

Corinne Masiero’s Madeleine, the secretive hermit artist who lives near the cottage, deepens the story. Her philosophical musings, spouted by talking to her dog Rambo as if he were human, are amusing but profound. She also coexists peacefully with nature, maintaining an abiding respect for the cycle of life and death that makes up the natural world. In one profound sequence, Madeline reveals to Clémence that she keeps on hand a drug to put Rambo to sleep should his time come. She mentions it is cruel to keep animals alive for our love, and when it is Rambo’s time, she will do it with dignity. Madeline becomes deeply distressed and angry about having to save Clémence from a bear attack, laying her hands on the animal with reverence and regret.

A Cat’s Life is not just a movie; it’s a mirror that reflects the shared experiences of humans and animals. It shows that people grow and change with time and seek independence as they do. Crafted with exquisite care and filled with music and images that immerse audiences’ in its themes, this narrative is not just entertainment but a learning experience for the young ones who can lose themselves in this film’s world. The reflections of love, loss, and deeper themes of growing up and leaving bits of your past life behind, even though it hurts deeply will resonant with all, young and old alike.

A Cat's Life (2024)

Directed: Guillaume Maidatchevsky

Written: Guillaume Maidatchevsky, Michaël Souhaité

Starring: Capucine Sainson-Fabresse, Corinne Masiero, Lucie Laurent, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

A Cat's Life Image

"…not just a movie; it's a mirror that reflects the shared experiences of humans and animals."

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