When The Cat's Away

on June 20, 1997 by Craig Vickers
   Writer/director Cedric Klapisch has made a winning and thoughtful film with "When the Cat's Away." Its plot concerns Chloe, a dissatisfied modeling agency assistant whose life revolves around work and her only friend, gay roommate Michel. She decides to take a vacation and leaves her cat with Mademoiselle Renee, a neighborhood eccentric. When Chloe returns, she finds that her cat has disappeared. Mme. Renee alerts others in the neighborhood and instigates an exhaustive block-by-block search. Along the way, Chloe meets a host of culturally diverse characters; suddenly, her life is filled with adventure, intrigue and romance.
   This Vertigo/France 2 production is charming without being cloying, funny without being cute. Klapisch effortlessly entertains his audience but at the same time addresses such serious concerns as poverty, homelessness and racial prejudice. There's also a sense of foreboding as characters are evicted from apartments, and buildings stand vacant. The film's deft combination of comedy and social awareness is a rarity.    Starring Garance Clavel, Sinedine Soualem and Renee Le Calm. Directed and written by Cedric Klapisch. Produced by Aissa Djabri, Farid Lahoussa and Maunuel Munz. A Sony Classics release. Comedy. French-language; English subtitles. Rated R for a brief strong sex scene and some language. Running time: 95 min.
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