Ernest & Celestine
Celestine is a little mouse trying to avoid a dental career; Ernest is a big bear craving an artistic outlet. When Celestine meets Ernest, they overcome their natural enmity by forging a life of crime together.
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★★★★½ review by DirkH on Letterboxd
A story about two bohemians that, despite being shunned by society as they are deemed to be too 'individual' and their relationship is considered to be unnatural, still want to be together no matter what.
The fact that one of them is a bear and the other a mouse and that this is essentially a children's story is besides the point.
I'm head over heals with this film. Ernest & Celestine is a perfect example of superb storytelling that doesn't shy away from having something to say, without dumbing it down for its younger audience. It is such a common mistake made in, especially animated, films. The mistake of regarding (young) audiences as morons, incapable of putting one and two together. Keeping it simple and dumbing things down are not the same. Ernest & Celestine's message is simple, but it doesn't hammer it home. Instead it lets the story bring it across.
And what a wonderful story it is! Filled with wonderful characters, a rich environment, two irresistible protagonists and a genuinely heartfelt premise. Everything just comes together in the most satisfying way imaginable, all encapsulated by immaculate animation. The art is stunning, with a style that perfectly fits the story it tells.
This film is the ultimate comfort food, a huge mug of hot coco on a chilly winter's day, leaving a fulfilled and warm smile on your face after you've finished it.
★★★½ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
death by cuteness.
have i ever ranted about how soulless CG has completely corrupted modern animation? there's more life and warmth in this film's poster than in all of FROZEN.
i only wish the middle bit where they're becoming friends ran longer. and also the beginning bits and ending bits and basically i think this movie should have been 4 hours long released in 2 volumes and then extended cuts for berlin & cannes.
★★★★ review by Jonathan White on Letterboxd
What a charming and sweet little film!
It always warms my heart when a feature length animation embraces a traditional look in this 3D solid model age. It evokes wonder and comfort and warmth .. and memories of storybooks; those told to us, or those we've told to our children.
For me, my thoughts harkened back to Jez Alborough’s ‘Where’s my Teddy’, a book I had read to my son time and time again. What could be more frightening to a child than a great big bear? Just imagine if you were even more diminutive; a tiny mouse.
There were so many great adult themes explored in this wonderful children’s tale, and there’s a cheeky air of disobedience, irreverence, and even a touch of villainy. Not so unlike the cartoons we ( at least I ) grew up with.
Voice acting is pitch perfect from our two leads. Lambert Wilson provides a great grumpy, dumb, yet sage and loyal Ernest, and Pauline Brunner an irreverent, smart, yet un-precocious Celestine. Despite society’s expectations, you know from the first frame that these two same characters from disparate worlds belong together.
I got the biggest smile at the end when the story confirmed that it was but an alternate introduction to an already well loved and established series of books. It made me kind of sad that now I don’t have a son of that age to read them to. AH! My wife and I have a 6 year old Godchild!
While it was a bit perplexing that the Region 2 DVD didn’t have an English track to accommodate young English viewers, a list of well known English speaking actors mysteriously appears in the ‘rest of cast listed alphabetically’ section on IMDB. I have a feeling there will be a big re-release of this wonderful film. Don’t wait for that, though. The voices are marvelous, the story so charming. Throw your adult sensibilities out the window and become a child again, with all the wonder that comes with it, for a wonderful eighty minute vacation.
★★★★ review by Adam Cook on Letterboxd
Based on the celebrated stories by Belgian author, Gabrielle Vincent, Ernest & Celestine is a sweet and captivating animated film about the relationship between a bear and a mouse; two creatures who should never be friends. Adapted by the directors responsible for the wonderful, A Town Called Panic, this latest offering is very different but no less delightful.
Ernest is an irascible but kind-hearted bear who scrapes by as a busker. He’s constantly getting in trouble with the law whether it is due to disturbing the peace or his admittedly dubious moral choices (for a film aimed at a young audience the titular protagonists have little problem with petty theft). He is an outsider and finds a kindred spirit in the diminutive form of Celestine, an orphaned mouse who doesn’t believe the childhood stories about the Big Bad Bears. Together they find the companionship and acceptance that is absent from both their lives.
Foregoing the madcap absurdism that characterised the co-directors previous film, Ernest & Celestine is a sweet, genial and lightly humorous story about tolerance and friendship. The mismatched couple find themselves ostracised from both communities - the bears who live on the surface and the mice who call the sewers their home. These differing worlds are wonderfully realised with each town having their own particular quirks and unique features.
There is a genuine warmth to the film’s central relationship with both characters discovering that they need the other to survive. Celestine is a particularly endearing creation thanks to her inquisitive nature and unwavering optimism. The contrast between this odd pairing is nicely teased throughout and you genuinely care for the both of them by the time the credits roll. The vocal work by Lambert Wilson and Pauline Brunner is also pitch perfect.
Unsurprisingly, given its picture book origins, this is predominantly aimed at a young audience. The story is amiable and undemanding with very little sense of genuine peril yet there is a refreshing simplicity here that is in stark contrast with the more life and death bombastic American animated features. That is not to suggest this film is uneventful or boring - for example, there is a brilliantly staged and thrilling chase through the sewer city - but it is a very gentle picture with an unhurried pace.
The art direction perfectly complements this endearing tall tale. The delicate and beautiful watercolour illustrations bring a subtle and unique charm to the story. Although inspired by Gabrielle Vincent’s artwork (his influence is more obvious in the drawings that play during the closing credits) the loose painterly style adds a warm and comforting energy to the film that may have been lost if it had remained faithful to the source material. It is genuinely one of the most attractive animated features to be released in a long time.
Ernest & Celestine is a delightful family film that is as charming as it is beautiful and a treat for all ages.
★★★½ review by Dragonknight on Letterboxd
In a time when lifeless and unattractive computer generated animations are dominating box office charts watching this enchanting and creative little animation which features a pretty much primitive technique and a very simple plot outline is an incredibly enjoyable experience. At first Ernest & Celestine looks like a childish animation that doesn't have anything to satisfy adults, after all who makes a film about a mouse that befriends a bear using hand drawn images?! That’s the biggest mistake one can make when approaching this one, although the story is very similar to one of those bedtime stories that people read to their seven year old kids but quite amazingly the directors manage to highlight themes which are incredibly thought-provoking and up-to-date which means Ernest & Celestine goes beyond a typical adaptation of a popular children’s book.
First of all the technique is really impressive, directors Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner fill their work with eye-catching and sharp colors and by employing a minimal approach they manage to transform that essential innocence and simplicity of a children’s book to the screen, the lines that create everything are simple, there’s nothing complicated about the way they draw characters and places and even the way they use colors to paint things is very simple which eventually makes it much easier to connect with the film and its messages. But this approach doesn't mean that they sacrifice beauty to reach simplicity, in fact the film’s biggest achievement is that it wonderfully finds a way of being simple and utterly beautiful at the same time and that’s exactly where many animations fail.
And then there is the story. I know it’s quite dangerous to over-analyze artistic works– specially animations – but the issues addressed here are not easy to ignore. Here we have a world with two different societies which are living beside each other but they both see each other as direct and hostile enemies and when two individuals from these two communities form a relationship their decision comes under intense criticism from both sides as they consider the other one to be dangerous, corrupt and dishonest. But it is this friendship – at first a taboo for both parties – that finally convinces people to change their viewpoints. I haven’t read the original books so I don’t know if these themes are actually part of the original material or directors have added them to the animation in order to make it more suitable for adults but one things is for sure: under that simple and seemingly childish surface of Ernest & Celestine lies a very profound and significant subject matter. In the end of course friendship overcomes all the hate and intolerance which suits the fairytale-ish and joyous look of the film, at least in animations dreams can come true.
Ernest & Celestine is surely one of the most creative and charming animations of the recent years, it once again proves that sometimes in order to create something fresh you have to go back to the roots.
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