Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Hedgehog (Movie Review)


My older bro Curtis came back in town (after being gone for several months at Army Reserve training) and took me to see The Hedgehog at the Tivoli yesterday. (warning: spoilers ahead)
It's a story centered on a depressed 11 year-old girl, Paloma, who decides to commit suicide on her 12th birthday, which is 165 days after she starts filming a documentary about the adults around her. Paloma compares adult life to living in a fishbowl - limiting and degrading - and refuses to allow herself to become part of it. Hence, her suicide plan (to steal 1 pill a week from her mother and then overdose).

Kakuro via zap2it.com

Paloma spends her time out of school on creative projects, including her film, and with getting to know Kakuro, her new Japanese neighbor, a widower, and Renee, the concierge of her building, a private, bookworm widow. Kakuro and Renee also get to know one another, leading to a budding romance.

Renee via zap2it.com

The fish in a fishbowl imagery (Paloma's older sister has one which stays in the living room) & comparison is woven through Paloma's commentary of the lives she observes - her politically-obsessed father, pill-popping, alcoholic mother, and all the other people she meets - except for Renee and Kakuro whom Paloma sees as having special qualities that set them apart from everyone else. The fish even comes to embody her future as an adult, which is probably why she "tests" her mother's pills on the goldfish, watching it float belly up. Paloma flushes it, but Renee later finds the goldfish swimming in her toilet, and gives it a new home.

I found the movie intriguing and well paced, through I was frustrated that the sound editors had the noise of an 8 mm camera playing throughout the entire thing. The cinematography interspersed shots that Paloma was taking of herself and those around her with more typical and elegantly-framed shots.

Paloma, Kakuro and Renee are each fascinating characters in their different ways, and their interactions are the most compelling moments of the film. The accidental death of Renee on the day of Paloma's 12th birthday brings the goldfish back to Paloma and teaches her the wonder and preciousness of life, ending the story with a bittersweet taste - much like the dark chocolate Renee so enjoyed.

If you like movies about oddballs and outcasts finding sanctuary in each other, then you should most definitely see this.

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