Belle & Sebastian: Friends For Life
Out Now On-Demand
The friendship between boy and beast continues in the third and final installment of the French family film series.
"Picking up where its predecessor left off, Sebastian (Félix Bossuet) is now aged 12, and has decided not to follow his father and Angelina to Canada, choosing instead to remain in the French Alps with César (Tchéky Karyo) to watch over Belle who’s now become mother to three beautiful pups. When a stranger arrives claiming to be Belle’s rightful owner, Sebastian finds himself in a position where he must protect his best friend and her little ones." (Alliance Française)
- Clovis Cornillac('Blind Date')
Adventure, Kids & Family, World Cinema
Rating: PG Violence
French with English subtitles
Not having seen the preceding two entries of this French children’s series, I still found Belle and Sebastian: Friends for Life a winningly low-key, if formulaic, adventure yarn. This final chapter spins a sweet, gently paced tale of adolescent resourcefulness, whisking its 12-year-old protagonist Sebastian (Félix Bossuet) and his trusty sidekick Belle through a period of emotional upheaval.
Sebastian faces a big move from his beloved, snow-capped Saint-Martin to Montreal. Belle, now mother to three magnificently fluffy pups, is visited by her abusive former owner Joseph (director Clovis Cornillac), a black-clad, tank-truck-driving miscreant with nefarious plans. Tchéky Karyo returns as Sebastian’s granddad César, who supplies some of the film’s most heart-rending non-puppy scenes as their close bond is tested.
Placed alongside the costly digital spectacle and noisy humour of modern Hollywood’s family fare, or even the overbearing treacle of A Dog’s Breakfast—sorry, Purpose—the small-scale, old-fashioned delights of Belle and Sebastian: Friends for Life is almost restorative. A hark back to a less complicated and cynical era. Sebastian sets out to prove his mettle in the wilderness. Belle gets to shine in a few displays of selfless heroism. Karyo floors a Mini through the snaking roads of the French Alps. As Saint-Martin’s bumbling mayor, André Penvern adds a touch of whimsy to the action.
It’s all very understated, unpretentious stuff. Maybe a little sedate for hyperactive children, but a pleasant winter-break diversion for those who aren’t adverse to having subtitles go with feats of adorable canine derring-do.
Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)
Sydney Morning Herald
Herald Sun (Australia)