ADVENTURE; 1hr 30min (French with subtitles)
STARRING: Félix Bossuet, Tchéky Karyo, Margaux Châtelier, Dimitri Storoge
Boy’s best friend: Garfield and Bossuet
The French alpine village of Saint-Martin, where six-year-old Sébastien (Bossuet) lives with his adoptive family, is a pocket of peace. But in 1943, the shadow of war is lurking in a darkly unwelcome SS presence. Boozy grand-père César (Karyo), baker Angélina (Châtelier) and medico Guillaume (Storoge) do their best with him but Sébastien basically runs wild, roaming the mountains like a light-footed goat. He has a secret friend in Belle, a Pyrenean mountain dog and wary runaway whose previous owner abused her. Belle is super-intuitive with a rusty honk of a bark. (From humble grey beginnings, she emerges post-dip as a snowy beauty — so French.) The vengeful Saint-Martin menfolk think she is slaughtering their sheep but Sébastien knows better.
Director Nicolas Vanier’s adaptation of the 1965 television series is a sweet observation of the disparate faces of love: familial, idealistic (Guillaume and Angélina operate a Jewish “fugitive-passing network” under the Nazis’ sniffing noses) and the biggie between human and hound that heroically surpasses them both. If movies were equipped with a weep-o-meter, this heart-tugger’s would be set to Max.