Dir. Olivier Ringer, France/Belgium, 2011, 77 mins, dubbed into English
Cast: Wynona Ringer
Review by Colin Dibben
A middle-class young girl identifies what’s wrong with her world and then sets about changing it in this contemporary family film that’s actually made by a family.
Cathy thinks her parents take no notice of her. To test her hypothesis, she slips out of the family car as they’re leaving the holiday home, to time how long her parents take to notice she’s gone. They don’t, immediately, anyway so Cathy hatches a plan to look after herself. She starts off by breaking into the holiday home, then gives that up for a return to nature. First, she sleeps in a kennel, then she moves into nearby woods and becomes an eight-year old bush survival expert.
It’s a lovely idea for a film – an Into The Wild for the under-tens – and it’s the director’s daughter doing almost all the acting (the director plays her father in the film). So it’s the real deal – a family affair that is aimed at families and, especially, at children. I’d wager that young children will love the idea of this independent, nomadic little girl going off to fend for herself, armed with only a bucket and a baggy jumper, even if her courage and self-confidence are a little daunting. It comes across as pretty credible: the fact that Cathy is often motivated by guilt but then outruns it struck a realistic yet optimistic note.
But there are problems with the film. There’s a needlessly continuous monologue from Cathy throughout – I kept on wishing they’d let the images do the talking – and the dubbed version is annoyingly monotone. The words in the monologue often sound like they were written by an adult: they make too much sense and sound very adult coming out of Cathy’s mouth. There’s also an overwhelming sentimental soundtrack and a disenchanting low-budget feel to the whole film. But hey, let’s stop being picky. Children aged six to ten will probably love it, although adults might wish Cathy had a wilder imagination.