Ernest & Celestine Review

Cheerful cinema from the mad minds of A Town Called Panic directors Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar is a treat indeed. Teaming with Benjamin Renner, they bring Ernest & Celestine to life. A beautifully crafted bit of animation that brings together two unlikely friends in the pursuit of inner happiness. It is what we all crave, yet a bear that owns an accordion has a better shot at fulfilling his dreams than you or me. Live with the pain that the bear is better. Act upon your indulgences, make your life better than a bear who tallies up crumbs on a spoon before taking a heaving great mouthful. He lives on the breadline, like all the great artists who suffered before him and, inevitably, after him as well. Such vivid detail is presented with an exceptional style, far removed from what Aubier and Patar offered previously.

Its animation is both defined yet very loose. There are pockets of detail throughout, but the characters themselves lack any sense of polish. It is a beautiful choice; the endearing nature of such quality relies on this heart-warming approach. We can see the lines where these animators are working out the angles and stylings of characters and moments. Ernest & Celestine has a warmth to it, every frame a painting seems to be the method of creating this crew takes. From the mouse that dreams of friendship, to the bear that struggles as an artist. His dilapidated house brings out his fury, but there is such a nice layer of comedy and lightness to the writing and presentation that it makes both Ernest and Celestine delightful characters to engage with. These anthropomorphic leads are clinging to very human struggles. It makes for dependable characters that we as an audience can not only relate to but enjoy on an emotional level.

Nobody likes to see struggle. It doesn’t matter if it’s a builder laying bricks or a bear working as a one-man band, we wish to see success because it is success we seek. Here, two animals that appear to be the complete opposites of one another bond because they are alone. They are stifled and struggling, and by the end of this delightfully short and comfortable film, they will have found some form of identity within themselves and a sense of value. There is value in both the characters and vision these filmmakers present through the eyes of a mouse and bear. Warmth and tones of tremendous comfort are present within Ernest & Celestine because of how optimistic it is. It holds out hope for all the bears among us, those clamouring artists living on the breadline, hoping for some unusual spark that will guide them toward success and security.

Animation is a supremely rewarding medium. We are given characters and scenes of true beauty that would simply be impossible in a live-action scenario. An elderly mouse, ranting and raving about how they will be eaten is a great example of this. It shunts the typical endearing elderly stereotype to the side, offering a demented and insane storyteller, who is composed of those cardigans and heirloom necklaces, but also an ability to morph into a ravaged beast in the shadows. It is a credit to this trio of directors that the “Believe me, friends, only in fairy tales can bears be friends with mice.”, this wizened, angered mouse says. A good thing, then, that Ernest & Celestine has all the charms of such a fairytale.

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