Based on the novel “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery.
Some are stirred by words, others oratory; many by both. “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” struck a fine and rusty cord in my spirit and finely tuned this solitary string until a symphony of such purity and magnitude, spurred me to purchase 25 copies of this splendid story to give to a myriad of my, oh so deserving friends. Years have dissolved but the profound message, pristine philosophy and the magnitude, the prescience of a divine combination, the magical mixture of language, thoughts, still linger with graceful symmetry in my soul.
“The Hedgehog” is a a story of awakening, rejuvenation and discovery; three disparate individuals whose lives serendipitously entwine, three thinkers, immune to the mundane agendas of their families and neighbors: “Renee” (Jusianne Balasko) a concierge for twenty-seven years in an elite building in Paris, her loving companion, “Leo” a cat named for her favorite author Leo Tolstoy; “Paloma” (Garance Le Guillermic) a disenfranchised, precocious eleven- year -old tenant, who philosophizes about life and its grimness as she hides behind the lens of her movie camera , she is skeptical of her mortality and is conjuring her own melodramatic demise on her twelfth birthday; Karuko Ozu (Togo Igawa) regally completes this unlikely trinity; he recognizes the “elegance” hidden behind the prickly “hedgehog”, the scholar buried in her first floor domicile; he understands without placation, the frustrations of a brilliant preteen, screaming for legitimacy in a world barely conscious of her existence. All three actors beautifully imbue Muriel Barbery’s characters with dignity, insight and wisdom.
“The Hedgehog”, like the book; is quiet, almost catholic in discussing art, film, psychoanalysis; shedding like a chrysalis and exposing the shielded inner attributes, as each character reveals themselves; sensationalism absent, just the iridescent glow, security emanating in the unearthing, reveling in the exposure of one’s secretive, imprisoned self. To quote Barbery, Renee after an evening with Karuko says, “When did I first experience the exquisite sense of surrender that is possible only with another person? The peace of mind one experiences on one’s own, one’s certainty of self in the serenity of solitude, are nothing in comparison to the release and openness and fluency one shares with another……”
Doris Lessing stated that “art must ever be bathed in the clear light of truth”. What could be brighter, more cleansing, more edifying than reading a book or viewing a film that abandons artifice, chimerical, and addresses nothing but the truth?