Through Highs and Lows, by David Bax
Not only is Celestine the mouse an orphan in Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner’s lovely Ernest and Celestine, she’s the least popular orphan. Her distracted, artistic preoccupations and tendency toward quixotic thinking have made her a source of bemusement and frustration among the other orphan mice and orphanage-administrating mice. They also make her immediately sympathetic to us.
Ernestine lives underground, which is where all mice live in the film’s world. Aboveground is the realm of the bears. Both live in perpetually quaint realms of cobblestones and charming houses but the divide is clear. Bears above, mice below. So when Celestine befriends Ernest the bear – who, as a street musician and petty thief, is just as much of an outcast – the town on either side of the earth’s crust is scandalized.
Ernest and Celestine is brisk and kinetic in the way that the best animated films can be. It not only moves fast, zipping around the streets and roads and straying from the laws of physics, it also moves gracefully, sometimes slowing down to the beautiful pace of a leaf tracing arcs through the ether on its unhurried path to the ground. It’s a joy to watch, with as many laughs as lessons about the simple but gargantuan virtue of being kind.