The Rabbi's Cat - review

By Purple

The Rabbi's Cat which opens this Friday at Landmark's Embarcadero cinema in San Francisco,  offers an eye-pleasing cinematic escape to enjoy as we embark into the new year.  The Rabbi's Cat is a French film, with English subtitles, and is based on a graphic novel created by the writer and co-director Joann Sfar who blends mediums to deliver the Rabbi's Cat to the screen. The printed material translates well, and the leap from panels on pages into its animated counterpart is remarkable. The Rabbi's Cat stays true to its origins as the hand drawn look and feel occasionally layered onto 3D models adds a nice sophistication and depth to the scenes.

The film is set in Algiers in the 1930's and is told from the perspective of an unnamed feline, who develops the ability to talk with humans after a house pet parrot suspiciously goes missing under the cats watchful eye.  As someone with cat-brain myself, I can verify that The Rabbi's Cat does an excellent job with interpreting and expressing cat logic. The cat's admiration for the Rabbi's rambunctious daughter, is only matched by the cat's devotion to his human, the aging Rabbi who is his loyal master.

The cat's snarky perspective provides the perfect filter to interpret the increasing tensions caused by the religious and political issues faced by the Rabbi and his Mediterranean neighbors in the years leading up to world war two. It's enjoyable to watch the cat dissect society's rigid rules around him, and realign his human counterparts toward the cats true concerns.

At times, The Rabbi's Cat will occasionally detour off into dream like sequences that come wrapped in their own visual style while serving to connect one thread of the main plot to another down the timeline.  And while some of these diversions are a visual treat to see, the loose narrative gets lost, found and forgotten at times as the Rabbi's Cat meanders us through another gorgeous animated landscape.

Once the Rabbi and his talking cat get to the road trip part of their adventure, fantastic footage of illustrated African wildlife fills the frames, leaving room for some unexpected cameos along the way. Including, without much explanation, a Tin Tin lookalike character, complete with cowlick hairstyle and snow white dog, share a few moments with the Rabbi, Cat and friends before they fade into the background almost as quickly as they appeared. Odd moments like these are woven into the rich visual tapestry the Rabbi's Cat wraps us in as we travel to far off lands with it.

Looking forward to comparing notes with my own feline friend, for Movie Magazine this is Purple.

© 2013 - Purple - Air Date: 01/16/13
Movie Magazine International