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Originally published Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 3:01 PM

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'A Cat in Paris' is a delightful, jazzy animated film

"A Cat in Paris," directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol and featuring the voices of Marcia Gay Harden, Anjelica Huston and Matthew Modine, is a delightful hand-drawn animated film that conveys a feeling of relaxed beauty, writes Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald in this review. It's playing at Seattle's Varsity.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3.5 stars

'A Cat in Paris,' with the voices of Marcia Gay Harden, Anjelica Huston, Matthew Modine. Written and directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol. 69 minutes. Rated PG for mild violence and action, and some thematic material. Varsity.

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From the movie summary at Rotten Tomatoes: "Dino is a pet cat that leads a... MORE

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The title character of the delightful French animated film "A Cat in Paris" is a creature of few words; just a well-placed meow or two, or a finely honed purr. Inky-black, with snappy orange stripes and a face that indicates a certain ennui, his name is Dino, and he lives by day in a Paris apartment with a little girl named Zoe and her police- detective mother. By night, he slips out onto the rooftops to join a pensive French cat burglar named Nico. The two slink their way around town, a graceful duo making an art of fluid invisibility.

I'd have been happy to just watch Dino and Nico's facial expressions (Nico has some very eloquent stubble) and waterlike movement for the entire movie, but "A Cat in Paris" has a more complex plot. Zoe, who hasn't said a word since the murder of her father many months ago (a crime that her mother is desperately trying to solve), decides to follow Dino one night, and runs afoul of gangsters who've clearly seen every Tarantino and Scorsese movie ever made. (All dialogue is dubbed in English for this U.S. release.) Things quickly get very scary for Zoe — and you can likely guess who's called upon to save the day.

A nominee for this year's Academy Award for animated feature film, "A Cat in Paris" has a jazzy, relaxed beauty; it's old-school, hand-drawn animation, and you sense the fun the artists were having. The colors are startlingly vivid — particularly a midnight violet sky in which you can imagine happily drowning — and the characters are full of quirky detail: feet are tiny and pointed; women's breasts bob up near their shoulders; Dino's nose, usually held high, is a delicate shade of blue. (In a scene set in complete darkness, everyone becomes, cleverly, a white outline.) It all ends before we want it to; a nighttime adventure disappearing before daylight, as if it were all just a colorful dream.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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