DILILI IN PARIS

★★★

A TIMELY ANIMATED ADVENTURE

ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Jake Watt
3rd March 2019

Set during the La Belle Epoque era, Dilili (voiced by Prunelle Charles Ambron) is a dark-skinned young Kanak girl in Paris. One day, the precocious but hyper-intelligent girl makes a friend.

Dilili's newly-found companion is Orel (voiced by Enzo Ratsito), an older delivery boy with a tricycle and friendships with several recognizable names from French history. Together, they will investigate the mystery of young girls kidnapped in Paris by the “Master Men”, a secret society of power-hungry dudes associated with the class structure of Parisian society, who feel threatened by the recent enlightenment and advancement of women.

Flattened 3D-animated characters (the inexpressive faces and frozen hairstyles take a little getting used to) travel around photos (taken by the director himself over the years) which have been introduced and edited as the film's backgrounds - they make for an eerie version of Belle Époque Paris, where everything is about to take place.

'DILILI IN PARIS' TRAILER

Strangely, the animation style makes ‘Dilili in Paris’ feel somewhat like an old-school point n’ click adventure video game (say ‘Monkey Island’ or ‘Broken Sword’). For non-nerds: games of this particular style often have hours of entertaining narrative and provide plenty of opportunities to explore your surroundings to find clues and characters as you progress through each level. A lot of the time, it feels like you’re watching writer / director Michel Ocelot (‘Kirikou and the Sorceress’, ‘Azur and Asmar’) guide Dilili between recognisable locations, having conversations with key historical figures (like Renoir, Rodin, Monet, Degas, Camille Claudel, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Poiret, Valadon, Colette, Renan, Proust, Gide, Louise Michel, natole France. Debussy, Satie, le Prince de Galles (Edouard VII), Pasteur, Eiffel, Marie Curie, Sarah Bernhardt ... whew!) which give away just enough information to further the plot.

It sounds like cross between Woody Allen's ‘Midnight in Paris’ and the animated noir of Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol's 'A Cat in Paris', but it’s a little less sophisticated and more kid-friendly than either of those films.

As the charming Dilili and steadfast Orel continue their investigations from Monmartre to Orsay, they discover the dark side to the Parisian elegance - a deep-seated hypocrisy and hatred against women (depicted in a handful of the film’s most striking scenes) who dare to stand out.

It sounds like cross between Woody Allen's ‘Midnight in Paris’ and the animated noir of Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol's 'A Cat in Paris', but it’s a little less sophisticated and more kid-friendly than either of those films.

However, while ‘Dilili in Paris’ is skewed to a younger audience, there is still a lot to enjoy for astute adults who can appreciate the beauty, art, and literature of this time period, as well as a bold proto-feminist message and a loveable yellow-ribboned heroine.

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