Let's go back to the industrial revolution. We are in a dark coal mine. We hear the grunts and plodding of a type of pony. The pony is slowly pulling a cart in the dark. The pony has been doing this its entire life. The pony believes the whole universe is nothing but working, eating, and sleeping in the dark. Then one day, death gets a sure grip of its wasted body. It can't work anymore. Its legs tremble. It's on the verge of collapse. It's lifted to the surface and let loose in a field to die. At this moment, it sees with dying eyes a world that's bright and green, bright and blue, a world wild with flowers and honey-making bees, clouds and scintillating streams. The animal sees all of this beauty for the first and last time. My reason for bringing this sad business up? The story of an important character in the French film The Hedgehog almost mirrors the story of the unfortunate coal-mine pony. But I can't say exactly which character, as that would release a spoiler from the cage of this review.

That's one part of The Hedgehog. The other part concerns an 11-year-old girl who has decided to commit suicide on her 12th birthday. She hates her affluent Parisian family (dad works too much, mom drinks too much champagne, sister is a dreamer) and has somehow convinced herself that death would be better than living in a "fishbowl [of boredom]." This part of the film is actually interesting; the other part of the film, the pony part, is not so interesting. Put together, the parts make a film that is not detestable. recommended