Before expanding into a desert adventure story, this French animation is a lovely, low-key piece of magic realism set in the Jewish community of Algiers during the 1920s. The title feline serves as narrator and occasionally converses with the human characters, among them the contemplative rabbi, his fiery teenage daughter, a Russian painter who's fled his homeland following the Revolution, and various neighborhood eccentrics. The movie is based on a series of graphic novels by Joann Sfar, who codirected with Antoine Delesvaux. Like the movie version of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, this is less suggestive of traditional animation than of comic-book panels brought to life, but as in that film, the vibrant settings and characterization make up for the occasional plainness of the imagery. In French with subtitles.
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