Monday, 22 April 2013


As much as many filmmakers are capable of working within the studio system and producing cinematic works of art which are also financially lucrative, the notion of commerciality is inherently damaging to the creation of art. The vast majority of animated films, notoriously time-consuming and expensive to make, serve their intended audience foremost. Ernest & Celestine is the opposite - it is self-serving, fulfilling its own requirements first, rather than those of the audience. Its capacity for profit-making may thus be limited, but its capacity for pleasing those whom it can reach is naturally increased in so doing. Directed by Benjamin Renner and the duo most famous internationally for the absurd (and distinctly different) 2009 stop-motion comedy A Town Called Panic, Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, from an adaptation of Gabrielle Vincent's childrens' books by Daniel Pennac, Ernest & Celestine is a charmingly casual parable, which wastes not a breath on any superfluous concerns, goals nor activities, and yet is full of breathing spaces, from the unfinished white edges of the frame to the simple, predictable storyline. There's a certain enchantment that can be conjured up by traditional techniques of animation, from the hand-drawn 2D imagery to the familiar story and character types, and Ernest & Celestine exemplifies the easygoing appeal that is achieved when these techniques are treated with sincerity and applied with diligence. This is a delightful film, with a beautiful design and excellent voice work, which approaches its moral lessons with subtlety and a slight (and welcome) wariness, and is characterised by its winning sense of humour and some memorable directorial quirks.