Ernest & Celestine (Ernest Et Celestine) (2012)

STEPHANE AUBIER, VINCENT PATAR, BENJAMIN RENNER

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  France/Belgium/Luxembourg, 2012.  La Parti Productions, Les Armateurs, Maybe Movies, Mélusine Productions, StudioCanal.  Scenario and dialogue by Daniel Pennac, based on the albums by Gabrielle Vincent.  Produced by Eric Beckman, Didier Brunner, David Jesteadt, Henri Magalon, Stephan Roelants, Michael Sinterniklaas, Vincent Tavier.  Music by Vincent Courtois.  Production Design by Zaza, Zyk.  Film Editing by Fabienne Alvarez-Giro.  Academy Awards 2013.  Toronto International Film Festival 2012.  

Sweet, gentle fable that takes place in a world where bears live the productive life above while mice are hard at work keeping their own affluent society going on below.  The two species live in fear and hatred of each other, the little mice always afraid of being eaten, while the bears know the mice come to steal their teeth to use in their burrowing.  From both of these worlds come sweet little Celestine, a mouse who is apprenticing as a dentist but wants to be an artist, and Ernest, a bear who doesn’t take to the responsibility of owning a shop or working as a policeman but wanders the streets playing music for change.  Their friendship begins when he finds her sleeping in a garbage can and almost devours her, but it leads to them becoming roommates in their own little cabin in the woods.  They seem to be rewriting the rules on friendship and harmony, but a delightful sequence involving a runaway truck exposes them to both mouse and bear authorities and puts them on trial for the crime of perverting “nature”.   Lovely animation and voice work that feel like a storybook come to life, with a moral lesson that never feels hammered home.

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