The work of renowned French illustrator Grégoire Solotareff, “Loulou et autre loup” (2003) and “U” (2006), has previously appeared on the silver screen. In the former, a compilation of five short films, in which a wolf is the center of attention, in ‘Loulou’ we meet the wolf orphan Loulou / Wolfje for the first time. In the film directed by Serge Ellissalde, he makes friends. with the rabbit Tom. Against all conventions and expectations the two become the best buddies. In ‘Loulou, l’incroyable secret’ (2013), translated as ‘Wolfje, the incredible secret’, we see that the laws of nature Tom and Wolfje still haven’t caught up.
Wolfje and Tom meet a mysterious fortune teller in the woods, who gives Wolfje a look into her crystal ball. She tells him that his mother is still alive and from that moment on Wolfje is determined to find out what happened to her. Together with Tom he leaves for the village of Wolfenberg, situated on a large protruding hill (the shape of the town alone is sublime). But let’s just say a carnivore festival is underway there (such a typical pun that cannot actually be translated, in French it is the Festival du Carne – as a play on words at the Cannes Festival). The largest carnivores have flocked from all over the world to participate in this annual hunting event. Wolfje and Tom are separated in no time, but their friendship will resist this, right? Or will the carnivores get a grip on him and Wolfje will get just as greedy as them?
“Wolfje, the Incredible Secret” is a hand-drawn 2D film. The film looks beautiful, with original shapes and surprising-looking environments. Prima Linea Productions, known for the aforementioned Solotareff film adaptations, but also from ‘Peur (s) du noir’ (2007) and ‘Zarafa’ (2012), make no effort to make the child-friendly Disney / DreamWorks / Pixar-like characters mimic, their creations are contrary and idiosyncratic. The colors are warm and the attention to detail makes you want to see the film twice, because your eyes are too short the first time. The makers do aim at somewhat older children and adults, because the characters can sometimes come across as scary. Not every character has a friendly appearance, thanks to angry looks, bared teeth and creepy masks. The minimum age that Cinekid recommends, 7+, where the film will be screened in competition in 2014, should certainly be taken to heart.
The fairytale story contains a number of beautiful messages about power, politics, class differences, tolerance and tolerance and even mixed marriages, but they are never too obvious. Here and there the tempo slows down a bit, which slackens the attention a bit, but across the board, “Wolfje, the incredible secret” is an enjoyable experience for the animation film lover. The film arouses curiosity about a next project by Grégoire Solotareff and Prima Linea Productions.