Paloma (Le Guillermic) is a prepubescent who, desperate to avoid becoming a petit bourgeois like her parents, decides she's going to kill herself on her 12th birthday. Then she befriends her equally idiosyncratic neighbors: a Japanese gentleman (Igawa) who's just moved in next door; and the building's reclusive, middle-aged janitor (Balasko), nicknamed the Hedgehog. ("Prickly on the outside, but...") Mona Achache's character study plays like a Gallic version of a Sundance flick, complete with on-the-nose references---Igawa's character is named Mr. Ozu---and just enough offbeat touches to make it seem more deep than it actually is. A climactic epiphany that feels like O. Henry lite doesn't help matters in the slightest.
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