DILILI IN PARIS – Movie Review

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Dilili in Paris is a charming animated feature about a clever, curious, fearless and surprisingly sophisticated young girl of color who stowed away on a ship from New Caledonia to France, and is now working as a ‘native girl’ in a cultural display in Belle Epoch Paris. She befriends a young Parisian courier who offers to show her the ways of French culture and the delights of the City of Lights, which has recently been under the shadow of a crime wave — robberies and abductions of young girls by the Male Masters, a mysterious band of thugs who can be identified by the rings they wear in their noses. Dilili, whom the Male Masters target as a kidnapping subject, decides that she and her new friend will best them and restore city’s safety.

The film’s writer/director Michel Ocelot’s distinctive style of animation and exposition has a simplicity and fluidity that allows for a beautifully rendered tour of Paris’ well known tourist spots, as well as the introduction of the leading cultural figures of the day and a surprising roster of other cultural references. And, all the while, there’s the mystery of the Male Masters, whose political leanings and agenda are, we learn, threateningly right wing and anti-female. There is great sophistication behind Ocelot’s seeming naivete. The film is pure empowerment for young girls and a chance for adults to visit with Marcel Proust, Sarah Bernhardt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, August Rodin and Camille Claudel, and many other great artists and glitterati of Belle Epoch Patis. And, with all of that, there are lots of giggles.

The film has been dubbed fron French to English, probably so younger Englisgh-speaking audiences can understand and enjoy it. Ubfortunately the dubbed version is most readily accessible, but the English language and delivery seem stilted. If you possibly can, see the film in the origibal French, with Ebglish subtitles.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dilili in Paris is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for October 11, 2019

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