The Fox And The Child

The Fox And The Child


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Luc Jacquet is, in many ways, following in the footsteps of fellow French film director Jean-Jacques Annaud - whose films The Bear and Two Brothers - took impressive animal footage and wrapped a narrative round it. But where Annaud used trained animals to give the impression his action was shot in the wild, Jacquet went the whole hog when it came to shooting his unexpected hit March Of The Penguins. It went on, at the time, to become the second highest grossing documentary ever, behind Fahrenheit 9/11.

It could be argued, however, that despite Jacquet taking a more natural line in terms of the way his footage is shot, he still inflicts a very 'human' story on his flippered subject. The strength of The March Of The Penguins lies firmly in the footage, while the narrative - particularly in the original French version, which did the festival rounds - suffered from saccharinne.

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In this, his follow up, it is again the story which undermines what is, otherwise, some very nice documentary footage of the eponymous fox.

Here, it is Kate Winslet who takes on narratorial duties as the child - a little girl with hair as red as the fox she falls in love with - goes about her bucolic ramblings in the forests of France. The term "gentle" is too harsh a word to describe the pace of this tale, which is so slow in places it's a wonder moss isn't growing on it.

The girl, who is, frankly, something of a menace on the idyllic scene, comes across the fox by chance and determines to befriend it. Through the course of this - with Kate Winslet's distinctly soporific narrator telling us every little nuance of the story and leaving nothing to a child's imagination to really have fun with - she has a series of mini adventures which leave you wondering if there is a single animal on the planet that isn't resident in the Gallic countryside - hedgehogs and wolves and bears, oh my!

In its best moments - chiefly when "the menace" is laid up with a broken leg and we get to see the fox and her mate playing in the snow - there is something of the magic of a good David Attenborough documentary about this. Equally, during the few moments when Winslet puts a sock in it, you're able to focus on the lush cinematography and lovely landscapes as the story plays out visually.

Even at just 92 minutes, however, it feels at least 15 minutes too long and even for a 37-year-old the fidget factor is pretty intense. While some adults may find all the wholesome whimsy attractive, younger members of the family are likely to be running about the aisles from about the 40th minute onwards due to the lack of any real sense of adventure. This Fox, though lovely to look at, is far from fantastic.

Reviewed on: 26 Jul 2008
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An unusual friendship develops in rural France.
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Director: Luc Jacquet

Writer: Luc Jacquet, Eric Rognard

Starring: Bertille Noël-Bruneau, narrated by Kate Winslet

Year: 2007

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: France


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