Adapted from Muriel Barbery’s international bestseller, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, writer-director Mona Achache’s first film follows three main characters, an 11 year old girl and two eccentric characters in her building. Paloma (le Guillermic), a serious, articulate but deeply bored pre-teen has decided to kill herself on her 12th birthday, disgusted by the futility of her bourgeois existence. Fascinated by art and philosophy, she questions and documents with a camcorder her life and immediate circle, drawing trenchant and often hilarious observations on the world around her.
But as her appointment with death approaches, Paloma finally meets some kindred spirits in her buildings grumpy concierge (Balasko the hedgehog of the title) and an enigmatic, elegant Japanese neighbour (Igawa who does not speak French and had to learn the script phonetically). These two adults inspire her to question her pessimistic view on life.
Some acute performances do justice to the novel in a quirky adaptation of the novel. Balasko steals the show as the prickly concierge with the warmer side. David Parkinson, Empire
With its literary and cinematic name-dropping, The Hedgehog unabashedly strokes the upscale, educated audience it is likely to attract. Stephen Holden, New York Times.
This tale of unexpected emotional connections is charmingly acted and surprisingly moving. Tom Dawson, Total Film.
The performances never fail to charm. resonates with a child’s sense of wonder tempered by an emerging awareness of mortality. Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel.