This is a review of the dubbed version of the film.
The newest film from filmmaker Michel Ocelot, Dilili in Paris, is a whimsical new animated adventure featuring fictional characters experiencing an alternate version of history. A meaningful parable filled with plenty of heart, this is a magical family film with which both kids and their parents will fall in love.
The film tells the story of a young girl of Kanak origin as she explores Paris with her companion, a deliveryman, in an attempt to solve a conspiracy involving the disappearance of several young girls. The script, in a way reminiscent of Woody Allen’s alternate history comedy Midnight in Paris, blends elements of fantasy and real life in a way that is entirely infectious, if not quite as magical.
Adults who are familiar with French culture will be overjoyed to see representations of some of the greatest figures in the country’s history, and this will also serve as a phenomenal way of introducing young children, particularly girls, to some excellent real-life role models. Famous faces who can be seen in the film include opera singer Emma Calvé and revolutionary scientist Marie Curie.
One of the few issues with the film is that it can be overbearing in relation to its message at times. Of course, since the film is mostly aimed at a younger audience, the film’s focus is on delivering its didactic message regarding female empowerment. While the on-the-nose nature of the plot will likely be frustrating to adults, it is simple enough for kids to understand and get what they need thematically.
Additionally, the film’s character development could have used some additional work. While the eponymous young adventurer is an extremely compelling character, all of her companions are disappointingly ineffective. Her sidekick, for example, a French deliveryman, has an interesting personality, but this is not utilized nearly often enough.
As is the case with many dubs, the English-language cast for the film isn’t particularly impressive. Even apart from the fact that the lips distractingly move in a different language from what viewers are hearing, the performances of the voice cast do not showcase a particularly dynamic range. Subtlety is thrown out the window in favor of straightforward and over-the-top emotions.
Ocelot’s animation style is definitely very unique, blending together cartoonish characters with more realistic-looking settings. The result is a feeling that reinforces the film’s motif of fantasy meeting reality. Thanks to the unique and beautiful world which Ocelot so intricately builds, the film is able to draw in the audience in ways one would never believe.
Legitimately heartwarming and having a good (albeit heavy-handed) message that will empower girls and young women, Dilili in Paris is one of the more memorable children’s films to come out as of late. While it is unlikely to get much mainstream crossover, it is an accomplished art house family flick.
Dilili in Paris is now in theaters and on VOD.