When I arrived at the city in the new state I was visiting, I drove my rental car to the eastern part of town. There spanning the length of a city block was a mural painted on a brick wall, depicting the struggles immigrants had who settled in the area. After spending some time examining the fine detailed work I noticed a community center across the street. I walked over to it to see if I could use their restroom before driving off to another part of town. Once inside I saw a tired looking woman sitting behind a long formica counter. Hearing my footsteps, the woman slowly raised her face up until her eyes made contact with mine. With a look of shock creeping on her face she asked me what I was doing there. I explained how I stopped to see the mural across the street. When I asked if I could use the restroom she muttered something in a low voice, then told me to use the private restroom behind her, not the one down the hallway. It seemed odd but I did as she told me. At the end of the day back at my hotel, I asked the front desk clerk if they had ever seen the mural across town. A stunned look came across her face as she asked if I had gone and seen it yet. When I said yes, she nearly hissed at me that I should have never gone, it was a bad area; no one in their right mind would be caught there. When I asked her how I would have known she told me it was easy, just look at what was walking around there. I was sensing she might be prejudiced so I decided to drop it and go to my room. I was reminded of this incident while watching this exquisite, Oscar nominated film. The message in this movie was told in such a delicate and lovely way; I was totally engrossed with the story. Raised to fear the other, rodents lived underground away from the bears who resided above. Rules were in place to keep each away from the other until young Celestine, voiced by newcomer Pauline Brunner, accidentally met street musician Ernest, voiced by Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men, Sahara). Their friendship would go against everything in place that kept the two groups apart. This Cannes Film Festival winning movie was enchanting with its uncluttered and simple artwork that magically told a beautiful story. I saw the original version of this dramatic comedy in French with English subtitles, though I found out later there was an English version. Without preaching or browbeating the audience, this film had a wonderful message that bears repeating.
3 1/2 stars