This is now the 5th!! installment to my ‘review an animated film not made by a major studio’ weekly series. This week; Ernest & Celestine!  Ernest & Celestine is a 2D, French animation film produced by French animation studio; Les Armateurs (see, I told you I’d return to the French animated films soon enough!) and based upon a series of books written by Belgian author; Gabrielle Vincent.

I was undoubtedly attracted to this film by it’s obvious, beautiful storybook look.

For fans of: Zootopia, Angelina Ballerina, Flushed Away

Mild spoiler warning

I was incredibly excited to watch this film, as I said last week; I have a long list of films in which to review and I found this one fairly recently but decided to bump it to the top of the list because I couldn’t resist finding out what this film is all about. Before I had even seen it, it reminded me of the kind of old cartoons shown on CITV (UK children’s TV channel) and Nick JR. the shows I’m thinking of are usually based on children’s books too, I guess it’s the storybook style that reminds me of them. Although, the themes in Ernest & Celestine are only loosely (very loosely) similar, it did almost remind me of some form of anthropomorphic Bonnie & Clyde.

The story of Ernest & Celestine is so charming, it follows the lives of Ernest; a bit of an outcast Bear, living in his house in the woods who is hibernating through winter – a bit like an anti-social Winnie The Pooh and Celestine; a little mouse that lives in her mouse community in the sewers beneath a town of bears (you can see my Flushed Away association here). Celestine finds herself a little left out in her mouse society as we see from a very young age; she isn’t afraid of bears, even though every mouse is taught to fear them from a very early age. Celestine is also a kind of Tooth Fairy, she and a team of other Mice interns who are working in a Dentist, leave the sewers every night and collect baby Bear teeth that fall out. The mice then use these teeth to replace theirs as their society relies so much on creating things using their incisors. One trip out, Celestine disrupts a family of bears -who just so happen to be afraid of mice – she then finds herself trapped in a dustbin all night. The next day, Ernest wakes up from hibernation and is trying to find some food, the only problem is, his lack of funds, Ernest doesn’t have a job and has a reputation for being a bit of a criminal. Ernest – who is now searching the local dustbins – stumbles across Celestine and tries to eat her, Celestine manages to bargain her way out of becoming Ernest’s snack by agreeing to show him where he can get some free food, Ernest agrees but as it turns out; Celestine directed Ernest to a sweet shop, meaning he is effectively stealing by eating all the food in sight. Ernest is then arrested (again…) and Celestine spots this, she then sneaks into the police van and frees Ernest if he promises to help her one last time. Ernest agrees and keeps his promise to Celestine which happens to be helping her steal a large amount of bear teeth from a Bear Tooth Replacement store (kind of like a jewelers but for teeth), The pair succeed but not without a few bumps in the road. The rest of the film follows the story of how Ernest and Celestine keep out of trouble and pursue their dreams whilst living together in his cottage in the woods, however the police departments in both the Bear town and Mouse town have other ideas…

With a plot like that, I was honestly expecting a bit more of a serious film, I thought it would be one of those smart children’s films that don’t shy away from adult topics but it didn’t! Ernest & Celestine is not only incredibly beautiful visually and narratively but it was funny and so sweet. The film contains such loveable characters that don’t make the audience feel forced to like or hate them, although Ernest starts out as a cold, aggressive character at the start, you still don’t feel the need to hate him. Celestine is the most adorable heroine I’ve ever seen, tiny in size but this in no way debilitates her. I know I’ve mentioned this multiple times before but the use of storybook watercolours and simplistic illustration really makes this film so lovely to watch, the world that was created for these two characters is magnificent, on one half you have the bear town which is pretty similar to a generic country side town but with certain aspects changed to make it suitable for Bears, like I mentioned earlier the Bear Tooth Replacement Store and the Mice world was pretty similar too except some features were changed and customised to suit the tiny creatures, it’s all just so sweet. My one problem with it that I realised early on in the film is why are there only Bears and Mice living in this world? I’d understand if it was a world of different rodents or a world of different animals all together but it wasn’t, it was just Bears and Mice, I wouldn’t say this is a problem though; just a curiosity.

I can honestly say that I wasn’t bored for even a second of this film, there’s always so much to look at and to focus on, not one scene was unrewarding to look at. I could be being a little bias in this though as I am such a fan of watercolour, hand illustrated children’s storybooks, seeing one come to life on screen like that was so wonderful to see. This film was funny, adorable and visually so beautiful, it caused me to at the end say an audible “aww” as the credits rolled, is that still not enough to convince you to watch it?!

9/10

To see the other films I’ve reviewed in this series, follow these links; Ballerina, My Life as a Courgette, Capture The Flag & Mary and Max. I also have a number of video game reviews on nerdoutwordout.com, just search for the posts including ‘Hope Eliza’ in them.

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