THE FOX AND THE CHILD/ LE RENARD ET L’ENFANT Directed by Luc Jacquet. Starring Bertille Noel-Bruneau. Narrated by Kate Winslet
EVERYONE loved the nature photography in Luc Jacquet’s March of the Penguins, his smash documentary from 2005, but many viewers baulked at the way Morgan Freeman’s sentimental voiceover imposed an anthropomorphic narrative upon the penguins’ travails.
The Fox and the Child, Jacquet’s curious follow-up, is, you might argue, a less dishonest piece of work. Using even more stunning animal footage to augment a simple, fictional story, this luscious film never pretends to be a documentary. It does not, it is true, work very well as a family drama either, but it can, at least, boast that it failed honorably.
The film follows the relationship
G cert, gen release,
between a sparky little girl and a vixen she spies while sauntering through the woods one autumn. Desperate to make friends with the beast, she reads up on the species’ habits and, after losing contact in the winter months, waits patiently for its return. Spring brings a litter of cubs, many new adventures and a series of life lessons.
The Fox and the Child could hardly look more beautiful. Filmed in parts of France, Italy and Romania that would comfortably accommodate a Hans Christian Anderson convention, it showcases the most verdant of forests, the most dew-eyed of foxes, the most babbling of brooks. One scene in particular, which finds the young heroine hiding in a wood crawling with beasties, would be right at home in a Guillermo del Toro movie.
On the downside, the writers haven’t worked hard enough at turning their exquisite footage into a functioning drama, and the English language voiceover by Kate Winslet is banal, affected and, above all, infuriatingly superfluous. Somebody needs to explain a fundamental rule of cinema to M Jacquet. Show don’t tell, my friend. Show don’t tell.
Resistance is pretty much futile: Bertille Noel-Bruneau and friend