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How to love your books -and alienate your sister. Review of Kerity.

Kerity is a Franco-Italian production on animation that rests on the familiar topic of fairytales - but this time, you need to combine all the fairytales together to make an adventure.

Nat is 7 years old, but he still can't read. When his grandma Eleanor dies, and leaves him her rich library, Nat is disappointed. However, his curiosity will bring an adventure upon which the existence of classic fairy tales depends. His own reading-phobia will be part of this adventure. 

Kerity seems to work as a meta-fairy tale, or rather a fairytale about fairytales. In an country home with an isolated library place (bequethed to Nat by his grandmother Eleanor) an initially reluctant boy learns to appreciate the adventures that the book offer.

This animated film includes in its narrative a premise that differentiates it from the usual "books are good for your sentimental education" motto. Little Nat loves listening to stories, but cannot read those stories. The constant ridicule of his older sister, 's reading-phobia is pictured in one of Kerity's most terrifying scenes: letters start to flood and attack the boy, and to solve the central mystery Nat needs to circumvent his fears.

The film treatment of classic fairytales is both reverent and playful. Pinocchio is the one who needs to tell lies, but these don't cause a major distraction. Alice (in the Wonderland) is Nat's love interest, and the ogre is both a threat for humans but also a good friend -provided you keep him close. Figures can make Nat be tiny (and enjoy their common adventures), and suddenly appear in awkward combinations, inside a book illustration.

Kerity is directed with a firm hand, with an eye for children's adventure, and its script believes vehemently that "without dreams we couldn't survive". Its lavish musical score, and the warm, monochromatic atmosphere of its visuals, set this film apart from standard Disney outings -no pop culture references, for instance. Even though its message is unprocessed for grown-ups, the execution works fine.

Vassilis Kroustallis

Kerity ou la maison des contes, 2010
Director: Dominique Monfery
Writers; Anik Leray, Alexandre Reverend
Voices: Lorant Deutsch, Julie Gayet, Gonzalez, Jeanne Moreau
Music: Christophe Hèral
Duration: 80'



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