Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Movie: A Monster in Paris (2011)

The film is set in 1910. The story begins by documenting the flooding of the River Seine that year.
Shy projectionist Emile has a passion for film and is in love with his coworker at the cinema, Maud, but has trouble admitting his true feelings. His friend, an exuberant inventor and delivery driver, Raoul, picks him up from work to transport him in his bizarre vehicle (called "Catherine"), to pick up a new belt for his projector, which was broken due to Emile's inattentiveness while daydreaming. In the process of purchasing a new belt, Emile also gets himself a new camera (which almost gets stolen by a thief). The story also introduces Lucille, Raoul's childhood friend, who is a cabaret singer at the club L'Oiseau Rare ("The Rare Bird"). Though she is a successful singer, her aunt Carlotta does everything to push her into the arms of the wealthy Police commissioner, Maynott, a man consumed by pride and ambition.
One evening, Raoul brings Emile with him to make a delivery to the Botanical Gardens. In the absence of the
Professor who works there, the place is guarded by his assistant, a proboscis monkey named Charles. Seizing the opportunity to browse through the laboratory, Raoul experiments with an "Atomize-a-Tune" mixture which temporarily gives Charles the voice of an opera singer and an unstable "super fertilizer" which grows a sunflower seed into a giant sunflower in the blink of an eye. Due to the enormity of the plant in a small amount of water, it starts to topple towards Raoul and Emile. In the ensuing chaos, an explosion occurs due to the mixing of the two chemicals. Everyone comes out unscathed, but Emile is convinced he has glimpsed a monstrous creature which is recorded on camera. The next day, the creature is featured in the newspapers.
An investigation is made into the whereabouts of the creature by Maynott's second in command, Paté, but is fronted by Maynott, who uses it as a scheme to maintain fear in Paris and increase his chance of being elected in the upcoming mayoral elections. At the same time, he tries unsuccessfully to seduce Lucille. Meanwhile, Lucille is trying to find a new musician for her show, and turns down the cabaret’s waiter, Albert (due to his terrible singing). Whilst trying to vacate the cabaret, Albert stumbles across the creature and tries to get back into the cabaret with no success and flees terrified. Lucille opens the door and accidentally pushes the creature aside into the alleyway after finding it curiously playing with the doorbell. Upon seeing the creature, she flees in an initial state of panic, but later hears the creature sing ("A Monster in Paris") and discovers it is not dangerous but has a lovely singing voice. She welcomes it into her dressing room, and gives it the name, Francœur (meaning "honest heart"), the name of the street where she had found it. The creature is nothing but a flea that the fertilizer, amidst all the other chemicals in laboratory explosion, caused to grow to human scale.
During the ongoing investigation, Emile and Raoul's secret of the laboratory incident is discovered and they are arrested. Brought before Maynott, Emile and Raoul think they are going to prison, but due to Maynott's interest in the creature, they are commended as heroes and are given the Medal of Honor. On a challenge he had been set earlier by Lucille during an altercation, Raoul uses the badge as an advantage to get the best seats at Lucille's show at the Rare Bird, which she had promised him. When the show starts, Francœur's skill in playing a guitar brings a new twist to Lucille's song and they both sing together as a duet. After the show, Emile and Raoul come to congratulate Lucille on her show, but upon been greeted by the musician, Lucille reveals the identity of Francœur. In the ensuing surprise, Albert overhears the situation and reports it to the police in an act of jealousy. The police arrive at the cabaret searching for the creature, but Emile, Raoul and Francœur narrowly escape and Albert is framed and arrested for lying to the police.
The following day, Maynott opens the Montmartre Funicular, which serves Montmartre and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The trio, along with Francœur and Charles decide to use this opportunity as a way of staging the death of the creature. Things do not go according to plan as Maynott, his pride now turned to corruption, discovers the creature hiding under the trap door of the stage. Trying to escape, Francœur and friends are chased through the streets of Paris by the insane Maynott, who is hellbent on the death of Francœur, even if it means killing Francœur's friends in the process. A chase ensues, involving an airship and "Catherine". The chase concludes at the tip of the Eiffel tower. Meanwhile, Maud, who Emile finally had the courage to make a date with, also arrives there. After a battle to protect Francœur from Maynott, the fertilizer wears off, but a gunshot from Maynott and Francœur's disappearance leads everyone to believe he is dead. Despite believing that he has finally rid himself of Francœur, the megalomaniacal Maynott is then arrested by Paté on the basis that Francœur is innocent. Emile and Maud fall into each other's arms.
Later that evening Lucille is distraught after the "death" of Francœur. Lucille is hesitant to sing her number onstage, but Raoul convinces her to sing anyway. Whilst struggling to begin singing, she hears a humming in her ear, which appears to be Francœur still alive, as he perched on her earring singing to her ("Just a Little Kiss will Do"). Some time later, the Professor who was absent earlier returns from his trip, and when the three friends explain the situation, he makes a new mixture that permanently returns Francœur to human size. Francœur receives second billing on the posters advertising for Lucille's show. Lucille and Raoul share nostalgia for a childhood memory, and confess their true feelings for each other. They share their first kiss in Lucille's dressing room.
In a post-credits scene, Raoul, Lucille, Francœur, Maud, Emile, Charles, Carlotta and Paté (riding the airship from earlier) scatter super-fertilized sunflower seeds to help drain the flooded Seine. In a second scene, Maynott is shown in the same cell as Albert and the camera thief from the movie's beginning, where he is forced to endure their appalling singing.

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