Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Movie Review: Belle & Sebastian (2013)

Belle & Sebastian (Belle et Sébastien)
Radar Films, Epithète Films, Gaumont, M6 Films, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, Orange Cinéma Séries, W9, Centre National de la Cinématographie, France, 2013. 

The film is based on book and 1965 TV-series by Cécile Aubry. The series is well-known even for those who haven't seen it because of the theme song "L'Oiseau." The movie takes the artistic freedom to place the events during World War II.

Sebastian (Félix Bossuet) and his grandfather César (Tchéky Karyo) live in the French Alps. They are hunting a beast that is killing sheep. It is World War II so the village must beware German soldiers. Village's Doctor Guillaume (Dimitri Storoge) is a resistance fighter who helps Jews escape to Switzerland. Sebastian befriends the big Pyrenean Mountain Dog Belle who is reputed to be the Beast, but is she really? 
Félix Bossuet
Tchéky Karyo
The villagers and the Germans hunt the dog, and Sebastian must protect her. Belle proves to be a heroic dog and together Belle and Sebastian have a great adventure. The main story is the friendship of boy and his dog but there are some other interesting characters that have hidden storylines. Village's baker Angelina (Margaux Chatelier) is also Sebastian's friend who may or may not have a romance with Guillaume. German Officer Peter (Andreas Pietschmann) show that the first impressions can be deceiving. And who were Sebastian's parents? There is a sequel "Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues" that may answer some of questions.
Margaux Chatelier
Dimitri Storoge
Dr. Guillaume
Andreas Pietschmann
Lt. Peter
It is beautifully filmed and a little bit melancholy family film. The Alpine sceneries are gorgeous and It would have worked without the World War II setting, but it works also as it is. The acting is good, young boy Félix Bossuet's Sebastian feels natural and he is even a bit mischievous. Star of numerous French movies Tchéky Karyo has the role of old grumpy grandpa who makes moonshine but takes care of Sebastian. Oddly, although Tchéky Karyo has been prominent actor in French films and he has appeared in big Hollywood films ("Bad Boys", "GoldenEye") and some of the cult action films of the 1990s ("La Femme Nikita", "Dobermann") he seems to have become famous for the great audience outside France only after appearing in TV-series "The Missing" (2014-). Well better late than never. The dog star is adorable and the dog scenes have innocent nostalgia of the classic dog stories. For fans of traditional dog adventure movies (Lassie, Rin Tin Tin) this is great viewing.

Mehdi El Glaoui who played Sebastian in the original series appears as one of the villagers named Andre. He also sung the theme of the original series.

Rating: Good

Starring: Félix Bossuet, Tchéky Karyo, Margaux Chatelier, Dimitri Storoge, Andreas Pietschmann, Urbain Cancelier, Mehdi El Glaoui, Paloma Palma, Karine Adrover, Loïc Varraut, Jan Oliver Schroeder, Tom Sommerlatte, Andrée Damant, Pasquale D'Inca, Eric Soubelet, Michel Pellé, Jean Blanc, Matthieu Warter, Jean-Hubert Vasina, Pascal Bison, Michel Claraz, Daniel Gainetdinoff, Célestin Personnaz, Jean-Michel Personnaz, Pierre Ferréol, Gilbert Suiffet, Yvann Lebedeff, Lonni Charrier, Gaspard Gogué Meunier, Emma Fogarolo
Director: Nicolas Vanier

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