Movie of the Day

On The Sly

This is only the second film I have seen so far in the Tokyo International Film Festival, which started the day before yesterday, having completely missed the first day. But I am going to try to make up for it by seeing more in the coming days. One of the great joys of going to the Tokyo Film Fest, or any film festival for that matter, is seeing a film you know nothing about, and finding that you love it.

This film was that kind of experience. The story line is simple: a young girl, a single child, goes on her usual weekend trip with her parents from Paris to their country home. During the drive, Cathy muses from the back seat of the car that her parents don’t even see her, something she tests by stepping out of the car as they go into a gas station before almost driving off without her. After a weekend of being ignored by both her parents, on Sunday evening, she slams the door of the car, only she is on the outside rather than the inside. There follows her various adventures in the woods around the home, evading her parents and the police her come searching for her.

What makes the film so engaging is that is is made entirely from the perspective of the little girl. The faces of the parents are never seen, we only see glimpses of the back of their heads or hands, and always from a low angle, as a child would see them. We hardly hear them speak, except to yell the name of their daughter when they finally realize that she has gone missing. Cathy doesn’t speak either, although her narration goes on and on, giving us an insight into how children think. When she encounters a stray dog in the woods, she perceives it first as a monster, and then almost immediately sees it as a friend. Camera angles and movements all mirror her own perspective, making it a wonderful example of subjective cinema. Finally, the young actresses’ performance is natural without trying too hard to be cute, something that was probably only possible because she is the real-life daughter of the director, who also plays the father in the film. All these work together to make it a beautiful example of a low budget film with a handful of characters, that is pulls you into its own world.

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