The Hedgehog (Le Herisson) (3 stars)

The Hedgehog (Le Herisson)

Smart and faithful adaptation of Muriel Barbery's best-selling book

(12A) 99min

There’s no demographic quite like the French bourgeoisie. Their revolution may as well not have happened, Gustav Flaubert pretty much summed things up when he wrote: ‘The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois.’

Renée (Josiane Balasko) is a janitor in a block of five huge flats. The residents think she is a stupid harridan but self educated and well read she’s cleverer than any of them. Paloma (Garrance Le Guillermic) is the suicidal 11-year-old daughter of one of the families. She discovers Renee secret, as does new resident Kakuro (Togu Igawa), but Renee is not sure she wants to be outed from her hiding place.

Mona Achache’s smart, faithful adaptation of Muriel Barbery’s best-selling book The Elegance of the Hedgehog strikes all the right notes. As a character study it’s off beat but prickly – the necessary connections made between the precocious girl, the grumpy lady and the serene oriental, never feels forced or clichéd, while the subtext of life’s unfairness, kismet and inequality that haunts the book remains. A must see for book groups.

GFT, Glasgow and Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 2-Thu 15 Sep.

The Hedgehog (Le Herisson) Feature Trailer

The Hedgehog

  • 3 stars
  • 2009
  • France/Italy
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Mona Achache
  • Cast: Josianne Balasko, Garance Le Guillermic, Togo Igawa

Off beat but prickly debut from Achache about a precocious 11-year-old who has meticulously planned her own suicide out of sheer boredom, and her discovery of kindred spirits in the shape of her apartment building's grumpy concierge and a mysterious new resident.

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