Moomins on the Riviera (2014, FIN/FR, dir. Xavier Picard)
Before Moomins on the Riviera was even premiered, the yellow press of Finland was eager to slander the whole film as inappropriate, due to it’s topics like gambling, drinking and dueling.
These papers together with large segment of present day parents have the image of Moomins based solely on the nineties’ anime. Therefor this film is important for the whole Moomin-franchise; to remind people about the origins of Tove Jansson’s beloved creation.
The story is from Jansson’s early comic strips, first published in 1955. It has become a bit unknown story, so it’s about the time to give it a reboot. It may be unknown for it’s strange milieu, as it’s set far away from Moominvalley.
The Moomins, Snorkmaiden and Little My sail to Riviera beach, filled with movie stars and glimmering. Snorkmaiden gambles to buy bikinis for a pool party with handsome men and glamorous women, leaving Moomintroll and others endure the odd conditions.
Style and story of the film is very faithful to Jansson’s comic strip, with only few details added from other stories, or order of the scenes slightly changed. The cotton candy colors of the anime are long gone and a new palette of vivid color tones and gold are introduced.
The artistic style reminds a lot of the modern cartoon films of the fifties and early sixties. In those days this style was very popular internationally, from Zagreb and Soyuzmultfilm to Disney films.
Film’s wonderful design will hopefully live on with the possible television series, that has already been discussed about with heirs of Tove Jansson.
If the series had the same quality of social criticism and satire the film has, it should definitely be executed to enlighten the little ones as well as the grown ups.
Moomins on the Riviera deals with themes like art conception and social masks in a way audiences of all ages will understand and enjoy.
Moomin stories aren’t all alike, and this time all the suspension-, oddity- and wintertime lovers are left nearly empty handed. Also, those who have a crush with Snufkin, have to settle seeing him only briefly as he stays fishing in Moominvalley.
So, this is kind of a rare treat for now, but all in all a high quality children’s film with a lot of potential to satisfy adult audiences. Especially if Jansson’s witty satire is understood and graphic style appreciated.
For a moomin fan this is an absolute must-see, no doubt. A general animation buff would hardly be disappointed and a general viewer should give it a serious try.
After all, this is easily one of the finest pieces of animated feature films from last year, yet movies like The Tale of The Princess Kaguya and The Lego Movie may be more unforgettable.
There are not too many feature films like this any more. Every bought ticket to a 2D hand drawn film is a vote to traditional animated film having a future at cinemas too.
Moomins on the Riviera have done very well this far and it is clearly determined to find it’s way throughout the world.