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Madeline (1998)

In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.

If you don't know and love those lines, and if your children don't either, then none of you are likely to enjoy Madeline very much.

Ludwig Bemelans wrote those opening words for the first Madeline book published in 1939. Admirers of Bemelans cite his charming, economical use of words and images. He also illustrated his stories. Madeline the film is by all accounts a faithful homage to this man's notable children's literature.

It's possible that some parents have schooled their children to appreciate the Madeline tales but if they haven't it's likely that Madeline will be considered a little too tame by all but the real littlelees. There's just none of the brash, relatively violent noise of most children's film fare here.

However the film does star Frances McDormand (Fargo) and Nigel Hawthorne (Yes Minister, The Madness Of King George) and they do what they can with a film that some will find charming.

Hawthorne in particular is particularly touching in one of the final scenes. And young Hatty Jones is appropriately determined and fearless.
 


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