Here’s a curious little film, a film that deals with the loneliness of being an only child told solely through the mind of an only child.
It’s a very bold concept and on the whole I would say writer/director/husband/wife team Olivier Rynger and Yves Rynger, manage to pull it off.
Set in the main in and around a giant country house outside of Paris, On The Sly tells the story of a young girl called Cathy, an only child of middle class Parisian parents. Each weekend she is whisked away to the family country home so the dad can relax from the rigours of his working week.
This all sounds very Idyllic but for the fact that Cathy is getting to the age where she is developing self awareness and the creeping, growing feeling that she is almost invisible to her busy, self indulgent parents is haunting her.
The film looks at certain attempts by Cathy to test her theory (she hides in a petrol station, she ignores the bell for dinner) until finally she takes it to its logical extreme and runs away into the surrounding woods where she embarks on voyage of survival and evasion.
It intrigued me, this film, and it has changed each time I’ve reflected on it. There were, for me, a few duff notes. The constant voiceover really began to grate after a while and for some reason they have dubbed the film from its original French into English.
Dubbing simply doesn’t work and on the rare occasions there was lip-synched dialogue it came across like an episode of ‘Heidi’. At one point in the film when a farmer opens the door on our young heroine and says ‘here are some magic beans’ I laughed, loud.
There is also the incredibly learning curve that Kate takes. Midway through the film she turns into a sort of six-year-old Bear Grylls. At the start of the film she can barely plant a seed but the end she’s building bivouacs and dams with her bare hands.
I have to say I really think children will pick up on the adventure and the romance of it and will, on many levels, engage and relate more with this film than they will with the majority of mainsteam films that are about to be wheeled out for the summer break and for that it needs to be applauded.
How refreshing to see a film aimed at children that isn’t a packaged rehashing of a computer game or the slow murder of a beloved cartoon character.
A film that doesn’t have the children leaving the cinema demanding associated merchandise. Saying that if they did a talking doll of the farmer I would definitely buy it – he was hilarious.
On The Sly can be seen at the Cornerhouse until the end of the week and is a fantastic way to introduce children to the possibilities of Independent Cinema.