When the Cat's Away... ***1/2 (out of 5) (1996)

Cast: Garance Clavel, Zinedine Soualem, Renee Le Calm, Olivier Py

Directed by Cedric Klapisch

A young Parisian woman named Chloe looks for someone to care for her cat Gris-Gris while she's away on holiday. The only person she can find is an elderly neighbor with many cats of her own. Upon Chloe's return, she is dismayed to learn that Gris-Gris is now missing and no one seems to know where it is. Chloe and her friends and neighbors go out in the nearby streets in search for the cat, while she also discovers that the Gris-Gris is not the only thing missing from her life.

WHEN THE CAT'S AWAY... is a lovely French film which explores themes of love and wanting to be loved in subtle ways beneath the light story about the search for a cat. Making the film work best is the amiably terrific cast, which exudes likeability and familiarity with three dimensional appeal. While billed as a light romantic comedy, it is deceptively serious, with romance as only that thing which keeps eluding young Chloe. Perhaps the film isn't as memorable or significant as it should be, but the terrific music and slice-of-life honesty makes it a compelling tale nonetheless.

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