Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Hedgehog

I went to see Le Herisson (The Hedgehog) yesterday (Sat Sept 3) at the Cine Lumiere, which is part of the Institut Francais next to the Lycee in South Kensington. The film is based on a novel which the friend I went with, who herself lived in France for some years, says she heard serialised on the radio. It is a fairy tale set in a mansion block in a smart Paris arrondisement, and records the parallel lives of an 11 year old girl, Paloma, who lives in one of the flats with her family - her politician father, neurotic self-obsessed mother and annoying older sister - ,and the concierge who keeps an extensive secret library in her modest ground floor apartment. An unexpected romance develops with a new resident, a wealthy Japanese widower, who also befriends Paloma and events unfold which lead to the death of one of the protagonists ( I don't want to spoil the plot). It is the sort of film only the French seem able to make, an observation of the way ordinary human lives intertwine and relationships develop, and in this case, a salutary reminder that life can come to an unexpected end, therefore no time should be wasted. One of the cinema goers was 100 years of age, a fact she revealed to my friend, who has a painful inflammation of her hip, as they both chose to go up in the lift rather than use the stairs. I had spent the previous day (Friday Sept 2) in Kent with another old friend: first, at lunch with my mother - who is herself a remarkable 94 years old -, at her house, which my friend last visited 47 years ago when we were all students, then for tea with neighbours ,who I have also known all my life, who farm hops in the Darenth valley. It was an idyllic summer's afternoon, the end of a perfect summer day, the sort that will linger in the memory, as we sat together in a beautiful garden by the river, three generations (I was with my daughter Elly and her youngest, Olly), some who have known each other for nearly 70 years.

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