bluntreview (dot) com says: France is usually the place to find small amazing films. This is no exception. The Hedgehog tiptoes through a few lives. The lens and players quietly sharing moments that ultimately ad up to a film that leaves you feeling...literally feeling. And these days saying a film raised an emotion (other than excitement due to an energetic edit or hyper sound system) says a lot.
Story goes...Little Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) is facing another birthday. She will be twelve. She has decided not to be twelve. She is planning to kill herself as she feels death is nothing. Paloma is a deeply introverted brooding - but charming - child.
She is also a rich child in a rich home. Her family is busy with their own dramas (imagined and real). They know Paloma is there, but not who she is.
With her father's old video camera Paloma begins to document what she has determined will be her last 165 days. A child of Nietzsche-esque tendencies Paloma is a suffering being who feels she is destined to grow into nothing. She shall be just another being stuck in the rut of life, as exposed as some insignificant little goldfish wallowing in a privacy-free bowl.
Above her own swanky apartment home's level a neighbor has died. In their place comes a gentle Japanese man (Togo Igawa).
Unlike the other residents, he is immediately intrigued with the building's janitor Renee (Josiane Balasko ). The two seemingly yin and yang souls dare to cross "classes." A reserved kinship is explored; friendship and "what ever they want it to be."
Young Paloma has also just recently noticed Renee. Not simply as subject matter for her film, or the building's frumpy janitor, but as a woman with a secret...
The young girl playing Paloma, Garance Le Guillermic, is like a French Dakota Fanning; talented and adorable. Hollywood is sure to "discover" her and treat her as they've done Keira Knightly. Hopefully, Garance will get through her assigned stylist's whims, the studio's gobbstopping-money-centric machine and find herself still interested in doing these kinds of thoughtful films.
Josiane Balasko, who plays the somewhat invisable Renee, is a veteran in foreign film. And her decades of experience shines like a creme brulee on a table of store-brand sugar cookies. That is not to say her costars are weak (not at all). Josiane is just the clear scene stealer - and she hardly speaks!
Igawa is an elegant gentleman you will recognize, though you may not recall from where. Head over to IMDB.com and see for yourself.
In every aspect, The Hedgehog is wonderful. The acting all around superb, the sets and location marvelous; I could have done without the fish murder...but still. Director Mona Achache has an exceptional eye for bringing out the loudest statements with the smallest of voices. Get to this film, order this film, see this film. It will remind you not every film is a generic studio-driven farce remarkable only in the egos before and behind the lens and bottom-line profits.
Snack recommendation: Ramen noodles and tea