Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Like the books it's based on (penned by late Belgian author Gabrielle Vincent), Ernest & Celestine tells story of "Big Bad Bear" Ernest, and Celestine, an orphaned mouse compelled by her superiors to become a dentist. They slowly become friends.
It's a gentle tale, brought to life by placid watercolour images.
Anyone who cares for the art form will applaud the movie's visual technique and use of colour and light, all excellent throughout. A couple of rain and snow scenes stand out as wonderfully atmospheric.
Nearly all of the visual gags also brought a smile to my face, but there are several instances where the wordplay just didn't translate into English. (I mean this figuratively and literally: there's a spelling error or two in the subtitles.)
After keeping a steady pace from the start (a well-thought-out cold open), Ernest & Celestine's conclusion felt odd—loud and almost surreal in one instance, before abruptly slowing down at the very end. I know what the filmmakers were reaching for; unfortunately they weren't able to achieve it.
The movie has been picked up for North American distribution by GKids, which plans to dub it into English for a Fall 2013 release. Which is good, because in its current subtitled form, its audience outside of the French speaking world would be severely limited.
Ernest & Celestine will have its public North American premiere on Sunday, before playing to a second TIFF audience the following Sunday, September 16.