A Monster in Paris
A Monster in Paris is an atmospheric, moving animated film. Set in a flooded Paris in 1910, the aforementioned monster is a flea that, following a chemical accident, is now huge and possesses a rather hauntingly beautiful singing voice. Raoul and Emile, the two men who caused the chemistry incident, and Lucille, an angelic singer, have to fight to save the misunderstood creature, who is being pursued by Maynott, the Chief of Police.
The presence of compelling characters is one of the film's main strengths. The two lead males are funny and heroic, while Lucille is a determined female lead. Francoeur brings to mind the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and elicits the same protective and sympathetic response. At one point he is hunched in an alley in a stolen coat, sheltering from the rain, curled in on himself having been rejected by everyone; all this giant flea wants is to be accepted! Thankfully, our fine protagonists come to his aid. The pigtail pulling relationship between Raoul and Lucille was amusing and endearing, whilst Emile has his own romantic dalliances with a ticket booth attendant, which was cute because they're both quite small.
Maynott is a suitably self-obsessed and slimy villain. Easily identifiable as the villain by the immense size of his chin (see Jeff Bridges in Iron Man), he neglects his city, creeps on Lucille, and does his damndest to kill everyone's favourite giant singing flea (I forgot to mention - Francoeur can also dance and play a mean guitar).
Dubbed in English from French, some of the film seems to have been lost in translation, and this is particularly the case with the songs. Though lovely (and in one case, where Francoeur joins Lucille on stage, brilliant), it definitely felt like they would be better executed in their native French. Vanessa Paradis is the only voice artist to portray her character in both the French and English versions, meaning that Lucille is the only character with a French accent in the midst of rather jarring American voices. Though quite easily disregarded, it was irritating nonetheless.
But this is a minor point about a lovely film. A Monster in Paris doesn't patronise or look down on the viewer, giving due attention to adventure, romance and music, seemingly without fear of alienating certain demographics. Animated film it may be, but this is one cartoon people of all ages can watch and enjoy.
Oh, and there's a rather sarcastic monkey who helps them in their escapades. In case you needed a further incentive.
A Monster in Paris is on at York's Reel Cinema. For more information visit their website