The Hedgehog (12A)

Starring: Josiane Balasko, Garance le Guillermic
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The Independent Culture

A tale of a prickly pair. Paloma (Garance le Guillermic) is a precocious film-maker in a bourgeois Parisian household run by her therapy-mad mother and distant father.

In 165 days' time – her 12th birthday – she intends to kill herself, though her plans change when she befriends the building's janitor Renée (Josiane Balasko), a bookish fiftysomething who believes herself doomed to solitude. "I'm ugly, old and surly," she says, though the gentlemanly neighbour Mr Ozu (Togo Igawa) would beg to differ. Mona Achache's spiky comedy considers the affliction of invisibility in social and familial circumstances: both Renée and Paloma seek love in a world that would prefer to keep them at arm's length. The fate of a goldfish provides a subplot in a film strong on tender characterisation and rather wishful about the remedies for loneliness.