“Leap”

 

            This is a charming little animated film that's not Disney or Pixar, but produced by a Canadian and French team, headed by co-writer and co-Director Eric Summer.  Though the plot is predictable, and it's set in a context not precisely historical, still, it has passion, pathos, artistry, and humor.  It's a delight for the young and the young in spirit.

            Felicie (the voice of Elle Fanning) is a little orphan girl who dreams of dancing.  She lives in a Normandy orphanage, where her best buddy is Victor (the voice of Nat Wolff), a friendly, high-energy, talkative lad who brightens Felicie's life with his quick wit and loyal friendship.  But they both have big dreams (he wants to be an inventor), and so they conspire to flee the orphanage, and they make it to Paris, circa 1887.  Here, the Statue of Liberty is being constructed, along with the Eifel Tower (never mind about the slight timeline inaccuracy).  Paris is a bustling, proud, cosmopolitan city, before the violent 20th century that would bring two devastating wars to its doorstep.

            Felicie manages to befriend a housekeeper/cleaning lady, Odette (the voice of pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen), who manages to overcome her own broken dreams enough to help Felicie with hers.  Victor, too, manages to find himself an internship in the workshop of the great Bartholdi---well, cleaning up after the assistant, but everybody has to start somewhere.  There's a certain irrepresibility to both of their characters, and we want them to succeed, because they've tried so hard, and want it so badly.

            But “Leap” keeps from sinking of its own emotional weight by the buoyancy of its humor and its airy light-heartedness.  The dancing sequences are particularly graceful, the late 19th-century Paris is glowingly whimsical, and the overall effect is a pleasant surprise.

 

Questions for Discussion:

1)                  What's your favorite underdog story?

2)                  What childhood ambition did you not achieve?

3)                  When have you seen talent and dedication overcome lack of background and experience?

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association