Newest Reviews
Levelling, The
Dog Days
Annabelle Creation
Once Upon a Time in Shanghai
Woman in Question, The
Atomic Blonde
Doulos, Le
Bob le Flambeur
Wedding in White
Léon Morin, Priest
Napping Princess, The
Scorpions and Miniskirts
Berlin File, The
Beaches of Agnès, The
Blue Jeans
Garokawa - Restore the World
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Gleaners & I, The
Peter of Placid Forest
Golden Bird, The
War for the Planet of the Apes
One Sings, the Other Doesn't
Great Gilly Hopkins, The
Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon
Cléo from 5 to 7
Night Flight from Moscow
Newest Articles
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
The Melville Mood: His Final Two Films on The Melville Collection Blu-ray
Always Agnès: 3 from The Varda Collection Blu-ray
Re: Possession of Vehicles - Killer Cars, Trucks and a Vampire Motorcycle
The Whicker Kicker: Whicker's World Vols 5&6 on DVD
The Empress, the Mermaid and the Princess Bride: Three 80s Fantasy Movies
Witching Hour: Hammer House of Horror on Blu-ray
Two Sides of Sellers: The Party vs The Optimists
Norse Code: The Vikings vs The Long Ships
Over the Moon - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 2
  When the Cat's Away My Beautiful NeighbourhoodBuy this film here.
Year: 1996
Director: Cédric Klapisch
Stars: Garance Clavel, Zinedine Soualem, Renée Le Calm, Olivier Py, Arapimou, Rambo, Simon Abkarian, Frédéric Aufray, Franck Bussi, Marilyne Canto, Aline Chantal, Antoine Chappey, Romain Duris
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Lonely, lovelorn Chloe (Garance Clavel) hates the daily grind of her makeup job at a snooty fashion agency and decides to take a holiday. Her gay flatmate Michel (Olivier Py), who just split from his lover, won’t look after Chloe’s beloved cat Gris-Gris, so she leaves him with absent-minded Madame Renée (Renée Le Calm). Upon returning home, Chloe finds her cat has disappeared, but it isn’t long before a whole neighbourhood of colourful characters are involved in the search, with some calamities, romance and heartbreak along the way.

A buoyant, heart-warming, observational comedy of the kind French cinema does so well, When the Cat’s Away brought the idiosyncratic Cédric Klapisch his first international success. Klapisch originally intended this to be a twenty-minute short film, but after recognising what a wealth of material he had with the minor characters (a mix of professional actors and scene-stealing amateurs, essentially playing themselves), expanded it to feature length. Some critics feel this worked to the film’s detriment as the large array of eccentrics (particularly the army of elderly women recruited to find Gris-Gris) tend to dominate proceedings, while the main players disappear from view for long stretches.

Yet upon closer inspection the episodic narrative is far from haphazard and works quite beautifully. Cloistered in her flat with the detached Michel (whose signature statement is “it’s no big deal”, as he casts boyfriends aside and keeps his flatmate at arm’s length), it seems as if Chloe’s cat is her only source of intimacy. The search for Gris-Gris leads her away from the confined apartment into a wide world populated by lively, engaging oddballs, opening her eyes as the film becomes a hymn to community.

There are laugh out loud gags and some low-key tragicomedy, mostly courtesy of poor, simpleminded Djamel (Zinedine Soualem) and his hopeless attempts to romance Chloe; plus the moment our shy heroine dons a sexy dress for a night on the town, only to suffer unwanted advances from drunken lechers and a lesbian barmaid. A few racist remarks and characters’ tendency to make Djamel the butt of their jokes may leave us uncomfortable, but Klapisch accepts people as they are - faults and all. Paths intersect, fresh information illuminates hitherto unnoticed characters, occasionally mistakes are made, but there remains the promise of hope.

It’s contemporary, metropolitan life, sometimes funny, sometimes sad. Klapisch’s real success lies in his way with fragmented details: the old woman who rings every night because she wants attention, the chatty shopkeeper full of “useful” advice, the beautiful model who is still insecure about her looks, and Chloe’s dream guy (The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) star Romain Duris) who turns out to be a love rat. This was an early role for Duris, who became a regular in Klapisch’s films, including his sci-fi oddity Peut-être (1999) with Jean-Paul Belmondo. Filmed with panache and full of real joie de vivre, it leaves the viewer feeling much like Chloe as she runs through the streets with romantic glee. The excellent, eclectic soundtrack features everything from Chopin to Al Green, French hip-hop to Portishead.

Click here for the trailer
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 1529 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
Keith Rockmael
Paul Shrimpton
Ian Phillips
Jensen Breck


Last Updated: