From the filmmakers who brought us March of the Penguins, I guess that came with plenty of expectations for The Fox and the Child. From the harsh winters of the South Pole to the lush wilderness in France, the narrative now becomes part documentary and part fairy tale, which tells of the friendship between the two titular characters, Renard the fox and its friendship with the child who christened it, played by Bertille Noel-Beuneau.
The story's frankly quite simple, and at times this movie would have looked like the many Japanese movies which children-miscellaneous animals striking a friendship after the development of trust, and how they go about hanging around each other, dealing with respective adversaries and the likes. Here, the child meets the elegant fox near her home up in the mountains, which provide for plenty of beautiful picture-postcard perfect shots that a cinematographer will have to go into overdrive to capture.
But while we indulge in wistful scenery, the characters don't get to establish that level of trust from the onset, and we have to wait a few seasons to past, and 45 minutes into the film, before they find a leveler in food. The child persistently attempts at striking a bond with the objective of taming the creature for her own amusement, but the fox, well, as other notions of course. While I thought the narrative was pretty weak, unlike March of the Penguins which has that human narrative interpretation of what's happening on screen, what excelled here were the documentary elements of the movie, tracing the life and times of the fox as both a predator, and a prey.
Between the two, more tension and drama was given to the latter, especially when dealing with traditional foes like wolves, and granted, those sequences were fairly intense especially when the child got embroiled in it. Otherwise, it was plain sailing and quite a bore as the two of them go about their playing with each other, in shots that you know have undergone some movie magic editing. There were surprisingly dark moments in the movie that weren't really quite suitable for children, as those in the same hall attested to it by bawling their eyes out suddenly, so parents, you might want to take note and not let your toddler disturb the rest of the movie goers.
As a film, I would've preferred this to be a complete documentary ala March of the Penguins, but I guess the way it was resented, probably had the objective of warning us not to meddle with nature, and that some things are just not meant to be, and should stay as such. Decent movie that leaned on the strength of the chemistry between Bertille Noel-Bruneau, and the multiple foxes that played Renard.