In a cinematic animation landscape all but dominated by CG and Pixar wonders of technology and buddy-comedy, A Cat in Paris breezes in with its own, more impressionistic charm.
In Paris, young Zoe lives with her Police Chief mother, Jeanne. Showing that the film is not shy of the darkness, Zoe's father was murdered by ruthless (and crazy) criminal Victor Costa. Costa still holds sway over their family life: Zoe never speaks and her mother is the typical workaholic and absent parent, as she desperately tries to track down and arrest Costa. To help look after Zoe, Jeanne brings in new maid Claudine. In an around this family is Zoe's best friend, Dino the cat. But this is not Dino's only life; at night Dino slips out and down to the apartment of notorious, daring and charming cat-burglar, Nico. Zoe, Dino and Nico are all pull into the orbit of the Costa gang as they plot to steal a priceless Colossus and Costa plots some extra revenge.
Everything unfolds with an easy charm and, though the run-time is brief, events unfold naturally and unforced. This is an animated adventure with some dark twists and turns that pulls off feelings of real peril. And that's down to, at least in part, the great character work; all the more impressive for one of the main characters being all but mute. Directors Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol have, with their first feature length film, successfully brought the feeling of a children's book to beautiful, animated life. Everything may be wrapped up a tad too neatly come the end, but it's hard to argue when it's all done so well and with what seems to be little effort.
As opposed to Space Battleship Yamato this film is childish in the best way possible in that it brings it's audience on an adventure and is one of those rare gems to bring out that childlike excitement in the oldest of audience members. The Cat in Paris is another reminder that you don't need photoreal characters made up of 1s and 0s when you have a cracking story and beautiful impressionistic animation.