The Hedgehog, a movie in DVD

By Ann Dow

The French have an expression that says chacun a son gout, which is translated “everyone to his or her taste.”  That is why we have varied car  models, unlimited  paint colors and many ice cream flavors.  Not only do we not always like the same things as others, but often we don’t even like what we ourselves used to like.  Books and movies as well as authors and film stars have fans who follow their favorites and often make the difference between a rare gem and a remainder.  Highly touted films make their way into the Multiplex only to disappear at the end of the first week.  The most beloved authors sometimes find their work among the literary discards on the shelves at the local dollar store.

I recently watched a film that I highly recommend to anyone who speaks French or just likes to hear it spoken and doesn’t mind reading subtitles; who loves Mozart and Russian literature; who appreciates irony; and who has the patience to watch a story slowly unfold with little action but a great deal of nuance.  The ideal viewer will be so familiar with Tolstoy that he/she will recognize that naming  a cat Leo is  a mark of tribute to that remarkable author .

The interesting feature is that the three disparate protagonists in this story are a 15-year-old reclusive girl extremely bright for her age, a 57-year-old apartment concierge with little formal education but unlimited curiosity for self-learning, and a middle-aged, educated Japanese man who moves into the upscale apartment in Paris and recognizes the potential of his oddly matched neighbors.  He becomes the catalyst to change the lives of the other two.  He is like a careful gardener who brings to flower the rare seeds that had been ignored because no one recognized their value.

To the truly thoughtful moviegoer who enjoys the rare fare at the art movie house, I highly recommend this film for your pleasurable viewing.  To others, you may want to try it, but if it moves too slowly for your taste, you need not be concerned.  I don’t like caviar even though I know it’s a rare delicacy.  I have no idea what a truffle tastes like and am unlikely to find out; if that makes me a peasant, so be it.  I like what I like, and I think that Frenchman got it right:  we do have to be true to ourselves  and spend our time on what makes us happy.  In case you do decide to have a look, our library has a DVD copy. By the way, I suggest that before you watch the film, you read the book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog —also available at the WDFPL.   Let me know what you think.

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