The Hedgehog is a 2009 French film directed by Mona Achache, loosely based on the novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. The storyline is somewhat bizarre, but it is really a very sweet movie.
Paloma is a young 11-year-old girl who is extremely intelligent but also suicidal. She decides that she will commit suicide on her 12th birthday and prove the wisdom of her decision by filming her life. She is disgusted by the mediocrity of her parents and the mundane dullness of her world. This, she thinks, is not what I signed up for.
In Paloma's building lives Mrs Michel, the 54-year-old rough and reclusive concierge. Mrs Michel has a tremendous amount of books and an extensive literary knowledge which she uses to hide from the world, especially her bourgeois employers who see her as just a caretaker with no intelligence or talent. She is “the Hedgehog”, who looks deceptively prickly from the outside but is really sweet and very tenderhearted once she lets her guard down.
Things change when a Japanese man moves in and the three form an unlikely friendship.
The film is well shot, and there is a dramatic contrast between Mrs Michel's downstairs hideaway and the deluxe penthouse-style apartments. The story proves that you can find kindred spirits in the most unexpected people. Paloma’s insights and observations on her world are articulate and often highly amusing. However, it is the relationship between Mrs Michel and the new Japanese neighbour, Kakuro Ozu, that keeps you watching.
Paloma: Planning to die doesn't mean I let myself go like a rotten vegetable. What matters isn't the fact of dying or when you die. It's what you're doing at that precise moment.
Interesting Fact: Togo Igawa (Kakuro Ozu) learned his French lines in the movie phonetically. He does not speak French in real life.
Until next time :)