The Fox And The Child
Review by Jack Foley
Luc Jacquet’s last film, March of the Penguins, was a magical experience that captivated audiences world-wide with its breathtaking images of life in one of the world’s most inhospitable environments.
His follow-up, The Fox & The Child, is a far more intimate venture that will struggle to find as wide or as appreciative an audience. The film is a frustratingly naive, though beautifully shot, experience that may ultimately test the patience of viewers of every age.
One autumn morning, at the bend of a path, a young girl (played by Bertille Noel-Bruneau with narration from Kate Winslet), catches sight of a fox. Fascinated by the creature, she dares to go up to him, only to see him run away.
Over the ensuing months, however, a relationship gradually develops between the two of them that enables the girl to discover a wild and secret environment. It’s a friendship that will ultimately change her life forever.
Based on a childhood encounter that Jacquet had with a fox, the film is undeniably at its best when keeping its camera trained upon the picturesque, yet frequently harsh terrain occupied by the fox (especially when rearing its young).
But it’s let down by the depiction of the girl, who is ignorant to the point of annoying in pursuing her relationship with the fox, and ignoring her own boundaries. Winslet’s overly sweet voiceover doesn’t help and there’s a nagging sense that the film could become a worrying influence on younger viewers’ attitudes concerning the approach of urban foxes.
Jacquet clearly has a special affinity for his latest subject matter but whereas his camera kept a respectful, intelligent distance from the penguins of glories past, he sometimes seems a little too close to this latest project and mars what should have been a delightful little experience.
Running time: 95mins
UK DVD Release: December 8, 2008