Luc Jacquet’s ‘The Fox and the Child’, his semi-autobiographical follow-up to ‘March of the Penguins’, is structured along the lines of a quaint bedtime tale. It sports little dialogue (a good thing given the awkward dubbing into English), and the story is narrated, in child-friendly fashion, by Kate Winslet. French actress Bertille Noël-Bruneau plays the nature-loving ten year old of the title who, over the course of nearly a year, wins the confidence of a local wild fox. As their ‘friendship’ grows, so does the girl’s instinct to domesticate the animal, which leads, unexpectedly, to a rather distressing coda.
Shot in eastern France’s lush Jura region, near the Swiss border, Jacquet’s golden-hued cautionary tale is beautiful to look at. It’s also accurate in the way the time frame of friendship unfolds, and is spot on in illustrating our tendency to anthropomorphise cute animals. Unfortunately, for all its welcome accuracies, it becomes so bogged down in padding and repetition that only the most patient of youngsters will make it through fidget-free.