Toward the end, there was something said that struck a chord, and made this film resonate deeply within me. Referring to death, the protagonist, an eleven year old girl Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) said that you lose those who love you and those whom you love. It's a little bit of a no brainer, but the context and manner when it was uttered broke down stoic walls that I've been putting up of late, and really made the inside of me weep alongside the sadness that permeated through the last act of the film.
The Hedgehog turned out to be pretty much a tale about the hopelessness of life, and it didn't do itself any favours when the one half of the main protagonists spend her time mulling about her planned suicide and being obsessed with death, with Hi-8 camera in tow to record the final days of her life, and those around her. At such a young age, one just wonders about the pity and the waste that someone so young have had enough, and fail to see the potential of so much that can possibly lie ahead in life.
But I digress. The environment Paloma gets brought up in, is steeped in class types amongst the luxury flats she lives in, with the usual reminder of being non judgemental in having form preconceived notions about someone just based superficially on one's exterior. Or one's job. Here, a reclusive building concierge called Renee (Josiane Balasko), matronly and frankly not too friendly from the onset, is that mockingbird, until we slowly learn just how learned she is. It reminded me of a scene in Sepet where the protagonist Orked got surprised that her boyfriend and his best friend, both ruffians, could be quite culturally steeped in poetry and music. As humans, this is probably one of the most innate traits we have to work out of our system.
Based on the novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, the film turns all heartwarming when a Japanese man Kakuro Ozu (Toho Igawa) arrives to stay at one of the units, and from there comes some positivity into what had so far been doom and gloom with the narrative focused on Paloma's incessant desire to end her life, and that of Renee's charade of hiding her true talent from behind a very gruff exterior. And what more when the narrative moves into the promise of a new romance between Kakuro and Renee, and having things starting to look optimistic, but I suppose Barbery and director Mona Achache had other plans.
Nothing will really prepare you when death finally comes to a loved one, and this film solemnly captures tragedy without over-dramatizing elements of something everyone has to go through, and perhaps the lesson is best learnt from the recurring motif of the goldfish.