Ernest & Celestine: It's Sort of About a Mouse, a Bear, and Trayvon Martin
dir. Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner
Ernest & Celestine is a French animated animal allegory about mob injustice, about being on trial for who someone thinks you are rather than what you've done. It's sort of about a mouse, a bear, and Trayvon Martin.
Celestine and Ernest live in a wispily painted watercolor world that manages to be squealingly adorable but sharp. Underground, the sophisticated mouse society where Celestine lives is founded on two principles: that gnawing has been their greatest survival skill, so being a dentist is their highest calling, and that bears are big and bad and will kill you. Celestine is an artist who doesn't think bears can possibly be that bad. She's failing at her dental internship. Aboveground, Ernest lives in the woods rather than in the provincial town. He's a street musician who goes into town to beg for food but finds no supporters among the bourgeois.
When Celestine and Ernest meet, they're too independent to like each other at first. They click only when they embark on a series of buddy crimes against their respective societies. Landing on trial in each other's worlds, teeny Celestine has a judge and jury of grizzled bears, and Ernest is at the mercy of snooty mice (which involves ridiculously funny bailiff-flinging).
They're each officially on trial for stealing from two bear shops. The shops were secretly in cahoots, one selling sugary candy and the other replacement teeth. But their real crime is that bears just hate mice, and mice just hate bears, and they have defied that logic. Mobs and cops coalesce into a single tsunami or a deadly hive.
No two objects are alike in the cluttered house where Ernest and Celestine live. They're not immune; they've internalized prejudice, too. When each wakes screaming in the middle of the night, the other has to provide a reminder. "I'm not your nightmare," they coo.