Sunday, September 18, 2011

REVIEW: The Hedgehog (2011)

The Hedgehog (2011). Original title: Le hérisson. Dir: Mona Achache. Starring: Josiane Balasko, Garance Le Guillermic and Togo Igawa. IMDB. In French with English subtitles.

Now is the time on Marie's Movie's when I gush.

Okay, so Muriel Barbery's book The Elegance of the Hedgehog, of which this movie is a very faithful adaptation, was one of my very favorite books when I first read it back in 2009. It's been a while since then, so I don't remember all the details or how exactly the movie stacks up on this or that particular from the book. What I will say is, I loved this movie, and if you loved the book, run- don't walk- to the theater near you.

If you haven't read the book, here's what to expect. In the present day, a precocious little girl named Paloma lives in a posh Paris apartment building with her family; she feels isolated in a dysfunctional family and befriends Madame Michel, the building's concierge. Madame Michel is isolated too. A widow, she lives alone with her cat and her books and she lets the building's residents regard her as invisible. Then, one day, a handsome Japanese widower moves in and the strangest thing happens. He and Madame Michel become friends.

I loved this movie. Director Mona Achache adapted the story beautifully for the screen. The book is very talky, full of long internal monologues and asides; not a lot actually happens. In the movie, Achache dramatizes the monologues by giving Paloma a camera with which to film her family all the while commenting on their foibles and faults, and by giving Madame Michel a friend and a cat. (I think she may have had these in the book, too.) I worried about how a filmmaker could translate the talkiness of the book and keep the movie interesting; Achache does a great job. And the movie follows the main plot points of the book; if you've read the book you know what happens. The actors are terrific and the movie is just a joy to watch.

So yeah. Go see it. It's great!

You can find a schedule of US showings at NeoClassics Films.

Rating: RUSH

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I did not receive free or promotional tickets to this screening.


  1. Ooh la la! I'm so glad to see your review of this film. I loved the book and have been wondering about seeing the movie. Now I just have to figure out where/when it's playing, and get myself there. Minor details :)

  2. I want to see this, though I want to read the book first. Now that I've seen your review of the film, I'll be looking forward to it!

  3. I haven't read the book but the movie sounds wonderful. Should I read it first??

  4. I didn't LOVE the book when I listened to it this year but the end blew me away. Now that I know the end I'm kind of curious to see if watching the movie would give me a different opinion. I didn't realize this was out so thanks for the heads up.

  5. The movie was quite slow but I never felt bored. I was totally engaged and enchanted by this movie. A great movie !
    Watch The Hedgehog