"a bit too slow for the kids, a bit too cliche for the grown-ups"
After the snow and ice plates of March of the Penguins comes another animal adventure; The Fox and the Child. Inspired by his childhood spent in the French forest, Director Luc Jacquet went into himself to see what kind of a little boy he was at ten years old and discovered that he was...a girl. Well, not quite, what he actually discovered was that he wanted to prove his strength and dominate nature. Apparently this isn't representative of childhood. A curious and sensitive girl, on the other hand, is. Jacquet.
And so he cast Bertille Noel-Bruneau, a little red head with an uncanny resemblance to a fox (entirely unintentional according to Jacquet). She takes us on journey almost entirely narrated by music and, erm, Kate Winslet (more about that later). She's curious alright, spending day after day running after the fox...or one of the ten or so foxes actually used. They play, they fight, they fall in love. It's all very peculiar and I did wonder if the film will really grab an audience, be it child or adult. It kind of seems to linger somewhere in between; a bit too slow for the kids, a bit too cliche for the grown-ups.
Then again, maybe that's why they brought Winslet in; to spice it up a bit?! That's my guess anyway, what with her voice tingling with sexual excitement at any mention of her fox. According to Jacquet, however, I got it all wrong; "It was very important for me that the actress would be very sensitive as well as having a lot of talent...I think that Kate maybe used her sensitivity as mother to tell the story" says Jacquet. Motherly sensitivity, eh? Sorry, but I just found her rather inappropriate. Just for the record though, he think she did "a fantastic job". If you say so Luc.
Human actors aside, I was fascinated by how someone can direct wild animals so well. There are some incredible scenes involving some kind of wild cat creature as well as beautiful night time scenes; definitely the cinematographic highlight for me in this 95 minute production. As for the foxes, Jacquet explained "You can't really direct a fox...but we had in the group a fox that was very good at doing stunts...another one who was really nice so he was chosen for the scenes with the little girl. I really chose the fox depending on its behaviour". And a suicidal one, too, perhaps??
I'm not discouraging you from seeing this, because despite my criticisms you probably won't see anything quite like this anywhere else and that would be a huge shame and your kids will miss out on the magic of wilderness...although if you live in the London suburbs they've probably been coming face to face with foxes since they could walk! But, and I'm being serious, take ear plugs. Please. It took me a good half an hour and a glass of wine to come out of the weird hypnosis that woman put me in. I can only wonder what his next project, a journey going back thirty-five thousand years to the first ever cave drawing, will be like.