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Fox and the Child, The


Stars: Bertille Noel-Bruneau, Kate Winslet (voice)

Director: Lac Jacquet

Full of charming moments - and a few thrilling ones - but stuck with cloying dialogue, this is director Jacquet's follow-up to March of the Penguins. A 10-year-old girl (Noel-Bruneau), living on a farm in the French mountain region, communes with the countryside. One afternoon, she catches sight of a female fox leaping up and down as it tries to root out a mouse, and determines to see it again.

After the vixen's mate is poisoned, the girl, patiently perched in a tree with a pair of binoculars, spots it again and gradually, amazingly, earns the animal's friendship by offering it food. Soon the two are inseparable and the girl becomes a kind of surrogate father to the vixen's cubs, protecting one of them from a bird of prey. She also saves the vixen by bravely scattering a pack of wolves that have 'treed' her vulpine friend.

When the girl attempts to properly domesticate the animal, however, tying a scarf round its neck and enticing it into her home, tragedy - and the end of the relationship - quickly results.

Though the camera tends to dwell on the beauty of the countryside at rather too much leisure, the director makes sure the film has a good ration of movement, too, noticeably a sensationally well-shot chase through snow when the vixen is pursued by a lynx. Winslet does what she can with the narration, which is admittedly a little less twee than the child's (dubbed) dialogue.

Alan Frank

France 2007. UK Distributor: Pathe. Central Colour.
92 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 03 Aug 2008