It is a film you’ll want desperately to like. Breathtaking images from animation techniques blending 2D and 3D renderings with photographic backgrounds and a dazzling color palette are a lush, decadent feast for the eyes.
However, the beautiful scenery can’t redeem the awful dub. Dubbing is almost always a bad choice, to begin with, but in this case, the result is truly horrific. The dialog is halting and weird, giving the impression the language has been dumbed-down for English speaking audiences, which is frankly offensive. The oversimplified dialog destroys any nuance in the character interactions and any real possibility of humor.
“…blending 2D and 3D renderings with photographic backgrounds and a dazzling color palette are a lush, decadent feast for the eyes…”
French is lyrical, flowing, and easy on the ear even if the listener doesn’t understand it, and any child old enough to absorb the dark themes of this film should be reading at a level such that subtitles would not be an issue. A viewing suggestion: turn off the sound, and play Parisian street music, skip over all sections regarding the Male Masters, and this will be a charming film.
Writer/director Michel Ocelot bit off more than he could chew here. He’s clearly trying to express ideas about female empowerment set in a particularly formative period of history, but he’s fighting a war on too many fronts. There is the Pocahontas story of a precocious Kanak girl who effortlessly becomes the belle of the Belle Epoch. She’s a “country mouse in the city,” discovering Paris, befriending powerful women. There’s the racism she encounters. There are the disturbingly creepy misogynistic abuse and oppression of little girls—all this swimming in stunning visuals. Piling on these elements is too busy and ruins the experience. Combined with the awful dubbing, this film is a slog to get through.
"…a strangely uneven French confection made of lovely animation and a bizarre plot..."