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WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY

SYNOPSIS:
Make-up artist Chloé (Garance Clavel) shares a flat with Michel (Olivier Py) in a Paris neighbourhood. He’s gay, and too busy to care for her cat when she plans a a short holiday. Eventually she leaves her beloved Gris-Gris with an eccentric, elderly neighbour, Mme Renée (Renée Le Calm), who has several of her own. On Chloe’s return, Mme Renée is distraught: she’s lost Gris-Gris. Several old ladies in the neighbourhood, friends of Mme Renée, help Chloe look for Gris-Gris, as does the slightly braindamaged Djamel (Zinedine Soualem). The journey fails to find the cat, but other things do turn up along the way…

Review by Louise Keller:
Chloe’s life is a little like the washing in the tumble-dryer: here, there, everywhere and going nowhere. The search for her precious, sleek, black feline friend with huge, luminous satellites eyes, is the catalyst which brings characters from different walks of life in Paris together. There is such a reality to the characters - in particular Mme Renée played so convincingly by Renée Le Calm, who is not a professional actor. The network of cat-loving friends introduced by Mme Renée suddenly become part of Chloé’s life, and she has the added complication of sweet Djamel (Zinedine Soualem), who is a little simple because he fell off a roof as a child. We become involved in the lives of the various characters; Chloé’s gay flat mate Michel, the drummer she fancies, the senile neighbour who keeps getting lost. And we lose ourselves in their web which represents Paris itself. When The Cat’s Away is a sweet film with oodles of charm, made as only the French can. (Interesting to note that "C’est bien" now apparently means "That’s cool" according to the sub-titles. Strange how the English language has felt the need for new vocab, while the French don’t find it necessary.)

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Unexpected and unpredictable, this highly entertaining film has enough weight despite its breezy plot to keep you satisfied. The loss of Chloé’s cat is simply a starting point as the film takes us on a short tour of a Paris neighbourhood, introducing us to a couple of cafes and a dozen characters, from little old ladies to big brutes. The appeal of the film for me lies in its authenticity; it rings true at every nuance, taking us into a slice of Paris life - but without the usual sights. We see a bit of Paris where people live their daily lives and the cranes are pulling down old buildings, bizarre boutiques replacing traditional shops, and nothing of the picturesque Paris we have seen so often. Then there is Chloé herself, a young woman with nothing overtly sexual about her, but with a calm appeal; she hasn’t yet found love, making the loss of her pet all the more painful. We also see into her life at work - as a make up artists for fashion shoots - which adds to the atmosphere the film so successfully creates. All the characters around her - and there is a terrific mix - are three dimensional and simply but effectively portrayed, especially the gay flat-mate, Michel (Olivier Py).

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WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY (M)
(Chacun Cherche Son Chat)
(France)

CAST: Garance Clavel, Zinedine Soualem, Olivier Py, Renée Le Calm
DIRECTOR: Cédric Klapisch
PRODUCER: Aissa Djabri, Farid Lahouassa, Manuel Munz
SCRIPT: Cédric Klapisch
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Benoît Delhomme
EDITOR: Françine Sandberg
PRODUCTION DESIGN: François Emmanuelli
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Palace
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 20, 1997 (Melbourne); March 27, 1997 (Sydney)

Garance Clavel as Chloé







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