I've been on a French bent lately where I seem to be reading about France, trying French cooking, and trying to remember French phrases and words from my high school course work. Maybe it's because my youngest daughter is taking French I this year and sometimes has me help her review her vocabulary. So it follows that I recently viewed the French film "The Hedgehog" which was directed by and stars Mona Achache. It is based on the book "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery, which was translated into English from the original French by Alison Anderson. I should mention that the DVD is in French with English subtitles.
The story of the film is that of two lonely souls that live in the same affluent apartment building in France. First we have Paloma, a bored yet precocious girl of twelve who, despite her family's wealth and influence, has a terrible plan for her thirteenth birthday that she has decided to document by videotape. Then we have Renee, a grouchy yet efficient superintendent for the building, who is viewed as vastly inferior to the affluent residents. Despite their obvious financial differences, Paloma and Renee are quite alike. They both are essentially unseen by those around them. They both have unique tastes and gifts for life's finer things such as art, literature, and cuisine. They both have soft insides despite their seemingly apathetic exteriors. When events bring them truly together for the first time we see a meeting of kindred spirits and get a glimpse into our own relevance in this world. The film also brings home that each of us really has a secret identity that is rarely seen by others and sometimes not even by ourselves.
Recommended by Cheryl Finnan