The rabbi's cat

The rabbi's cat

By Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux - 1h40 - 2011 (France, Austria)
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The rabbi's cat
Audience 9+

Synopsis

In North Africa in the 1920s, a cat who is not quite like any other is living in total serenity with Rabbi Sfar and his daughter Zlabya, with whom he is madly in love. One bright day, after "accidentally" swallowing his owner's parrot, the cat finds that he can suddenly talk! So he starts questioning people's religious beliefs and practices, causing plenty of headaches for the rabbi. Things gets even trickier when they meet an exiled young Russian Jew who has only one thing on his mind: to set off in search of an imaginary Jerusalem. Surrounded by a cast of exceedingly eccentric characters, the cat and the rabbi embark on an adventure during which they will learn a lot about differences...

Benshi's review
Benshi's review

With The Rabbi's Cat, Joann Sfar offers us a triumphant adaptation of his popular comic book and gives a new, cinematic lease of life to his favourite feline! This is an absolute delight for lover of his albums and a real treat for anyone discovering these characters for the first time! Through this philosophical tale he takes us on a voyage through cultures and times, immersing us in the Algeria of the 1920s as he talks to us about religions and spirituality. And talking is indeed the word, because speech plays a dominant role in this film so long as one is willing to hear it. It is by turns condemnatory, cutting and soothing. With the cat, an incorrigible yet totally irresistible fantasist, Sfar imagines a character who does not mince his words. The creature has a sharp and shrewd view of the world and enjoys unsettling humans by questioning their dogmas in an impertinent way. There is nothing naive about him, and we get a real giggle out of watching him repeatedly ask "why?" in his quest to shake up people's certainties. The film is right on the money, especially as no figure and no belief is spared! Everything is gently and humorously mocked, except when it comes to religious fanatics. The film is also delightful in visual terms, as we are treated to more offerings from the joyful pencil of Joann Sfar! The atmosphere of Algiers is brilliantly rendered thanks to a range of shimmering colours and entrancing music. What is more, the casting is top notch, with special mention due for François Morel, who delivers a perfectly judged voicing of the cat. A real triumph. This is a thoroughly pleasant humanist feature film with an invigorating message full of positivity! With this coming-of-age journey for a host of vibrant characters, Sfar sends us a wholesome invitation to open ourselves up to the world and go learn about others so that we can all get along better. This work will undoubtedly stimulate lots of discussions with young viewers, making it easier to talk about the world we live and in which they will have a role to play...

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Top reasons to watch this film !

  • 1 The humanist message
  • 2 The cat's way with words and his impertinence
  • 3 The hilarious nod to Tintin
  • 4 The cultural bath in which the film immerses us

Who is it aimed at ?

Benshi recommends The Rabbi's Cat for anyone age 9-10 and over. At that age children will be able to fully understand a story that is sometimes complex and will grasp the message that Joann Sfar is sending. Furthermore, although the film advocates "living together" and peace between religions and cultures Joann Sfar does not give us a watered down version of the world completely cut off from reality. Some scenes, like the ones with religious extremists, are more violent and, therefore, not suitable for younger viewers. It is particularly appropriate that adults accompany children while watching The Rabbi's Cat so that they can talk about it with them after viewing and clarify and explain any significant misconceptions.

Themes and topics

African Continent / Africa Animals Racism Travel Coming of age Tales and legends
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