A breezy romantic comedy about a beautiful girl, her missing cat, and the
ever-changing face of Paris, "WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY" is the story
of a single woman stuck in the most romantic city in the world.
Chloé (Garance Clavel) is a make-up artist whose love life is going
nowhere. She can't understand why the only men in her life are her gay roommate
Michel (Olivier Py) and her jet-black cat, Gris-Gris (Arapimou). Deciding
to take a break from Paris, she plans a seaside vacation. Unfortunately,
Gris-Gris can't come along, and Michel refuses to take responsibility for
him. So Chloé entrusts her beloved feline to Madame Renée
(Renée Le Calm), a dotty old lady with a litter of cats of her own.
Chloé returns to find Madame Renée thoroughly distraught--Gris-Gris
is missing. Together, they conduct a search of the area, a quest which takes
Chloé on a picaresque series of misadventures, and introduces her
to a wildly diverse group of people that she might otherwise never have
met. These include Djamel (Zinedine Soualem), a slow-witted Arab who loses
his heart to Chloé while trying to find her pet; neighborhood wiseguy
Carlos (Simon Abkarian); Bel Canto, the trés triste painter who lives
in Chloé's building; a mysterious long-haired drummer (Romain Duris)
who keeps crossing Chloé's path; and Madame Renée's numerous
elderly friends, a virtual army of cat-lovers who come to Chloé's
Writer/director Cédric Klapisch shot the film in a largely improvisational
way, incorporating his knowledge of the neighborhood and its residents into
the film's freewheeling structure. Many of the film's characters (including
the wonderful Renée Le Calm and her friends) are played by non-actors
whose scenes were shot in their own apartments. "WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY"
won the International Critics Award at last year's Berlin International
Film Festival and went on to become a critical and popular hit in its native
France, where it has played for almost a year. The film's success has been
repeated in The Netherlands, Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy and Germany.
"WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY" explores its surroundings with a sweet sense
of humor, presenting a vivid portrait of a Parisian neighborhood on the
verge of disappearing, as old buildings and old people give way to gentrification
and trendy youth. While Chloé's journey also uncovers an unexpected
sea of loneliness underneath the romantic Parisian vistas, ultimately the
film becomes a hopeful valentine to all who yearn for love. It might not
be an easy task, but somewhere in the alleyways of the city, you just might
find what you're looking for.