When the Cat’s Away (1996)

When the Cat's AwayDirector: Cédric Klapisch

Cast: Garance Clavel, Zinedine Soualem, Renée Le Calm, Romain Duris

Awards: Nominated for a César Award for Most Promising Actress (Garance Clavel)

Part of our job at Reprobate Cinema is to highlight the hidden movie gems that may have slipped past most of us. It is a sad fact that in most countries, quality independent film has to compete with big budget, lowest-common-denominator blockbusters with massive marketing budgets. That means that many of us never even hear about some of the most inspiring and thought provoking movies that are made.

This week’s choice, When the Cat’s Away (French: Chacun cherche son chat), is no exception. Starring among others Romain Duris, who went on to become one of France’s biggest movie stars (The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Moliere, Heartbreaker), this 1996 comedy-drama takes a small event, a missing cat, and elevates it into a thought provoking metaphor about the self-obsessed and often self-imposed isolation of many city dwellers.

When Chloe (Garance Clavel), a young woman who lives in the Bastille area of Paris, goes on holiday she entrusts her beloved cat, Gris-gris, to Madame Renée, an elderly neighbour. Madame Renée promptly misplaces the cat which forces Chloe to relinquish the snooty distance she has kept from the people in her neighbourhood as she searches for her feline companion. In the process she rediscovers herself and the area she lives in as she interacts with a variety of quirky characters and indulges in a bit of romance.

Whether you are an ailurophile or a Francophile, the easy charm of When the Cat’s Away will leave you with some food for thought about the value of real relationships with the people in your neighbourhood without requiring a degree in social science to interpret it.

Our favourite quote –
Madame Renee: “Men have let me down, but animals, never. Never!

Watch the trailer –