An­i­mal mag­netism

THE FOX AND THE CHILD/ LE RE­NARD ET L’EN­FANT Di­rected by Luc Jac­quet. Star­ring Ber­tille Noel-Bruneau. Nar­rated by Kate Winslet

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

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

92 min

G cert, gen re­lease,

irish­times.com/thet­icket/

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

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