In the day and age of realistic 3D animated films, it’s so refreshing to see something that is as beautifully hand-drawn as A Cat in Paris. Taking place over one night, the film follows a highly skilled burglar, a young girl, and the cat that they unknowingly share ownership of.
By day, the cat resides with Zoé, a curious little girl who hasn’t spoken a word since the death of her father, a police inspector. Zoé’s mother is also a cop and is struggling to find the balance between her career and caring for her daughter. Zoé also has a nanny that watches over her while her mom is working.
When night time comes, Zoé opens her bedroom window and the cat leaves to pursue it’s other life as the companion of a master thief named Nico. Nico lives a solitary life and only seems to achieve true happiness when he’s thieving with his cat.
The two eventually cross paths and the adventure begins as they become the target of a well-known mobster and his band of incompetent thugs. With danger around every turn, and plenty of thrills and chases, the film rivals that of big budget 3D epics like The Adventures of Tin Tin. There are many more layers to this story, but I’m deliberately glossing over them, as to not reveal any spoilers.
The animation in this film is phenomenal, with a uniquely French look to it. Nico slithers around his would-be captors in the shadows and vaults between rooftops with acrobatic grace. Shadows and darkness play a large role in the film, and are masterfully expressed, with one scene in particular which takes place in a completely dark room. The artwork is subtle when the characters are indoors, and extremely complex when they leave their homes. The backdrop of Paris is immensely detailed, and adds to the thrill as Nico and company dash across the rooftops. As they make their way through the city, we can see into the lives of others through the windows they pass, and we frequently see a hilarious dog incessantly barking.
Although this film is technically for the family, adults may get more out of this than children, much like a Pixar movie. Nico and Zoé are lonely people, who only have their cat for companionship. Nico waits by his window every night with anticipation for the cat to come greet him and Zoé tries desperately to receive attention from her mom. The death of Zoé’s father has made her mute, so throughout the film, she is always trying to express herself and be heard.
Clocking in at just over an hour, A Cat in Paris has a ton of style and substance, and certainly deserves the Oscar nomination it received. It’s thrilling, funny, heartwarming, and very charming. I think we need more films like this, to show the public that a fantastic animated movie doesn’t need to come with a pair of 3D glasses.