Review – Belle & Sebastian : Next Generation – French Film Festival

The first film following the adventures of Belle and Sebastian was released in 2013. Set in the French Alps a little boy befriends a dog and they ultimately help smuggle people from Germany across the border under the Nazi’s nose. The film’s success ensured another two followed with the last released in 2017. And now, the adventures continue with a new Sebastian and new tales in Belle & Sebastian: Next Generation. You know it’s the most modern adaptation because city kid, Seb makes a joke about the sleepy country life not realising lockdown has ended.

Seb is grounded but when a butterfly trapped in an overturned glass isn’t enough to keep his attention, the call from his friend to go skating is. Seb is a young adventurous child with a good heart. He doesn’t mean to be a problem to his mother or anyone for that matter, it’s just the things he does seem to always end the wrong way despite all his best intentions.

Much like Sebs visit to the skate park ending in another child being hit by a car as he chased Seb to get his skateboard back. At a loss with what to do with him for the summer, Sebs Mum Cécile sends him to his Grandmother, Corinne, to help at the farm.

Reluctant to take him, Sebs Grandmother finds herself having to get him out of trouble. The same reason his mother had to send him to the farm in the first place. Unwilling or unable to make friends he joins his grandmother herding the sheep up the mountain for the warmer weeks. But before they venture off, Seb manages to free a dog by the name of Belle who is being caged up and treated poorly by his Aunty, Noémie’s boyfriend, Gas.

There is something special about this transhumance, the reason Cécile and Noémie are non-the-wiser about. Sadly, with the rising costs Corinne is unable to maintain the farm. Gas’s father Serge is happy to pay for the farm as long as Corinne can convince her daughter’s to sign it away as well.

As the days melt away Seb and Belle build a connection full of love and trust. His Grandmother soon comes to the same attitude and welcomes him into their home. That is until Gas finds they have been harbouring the dog.

In an attempt to hide Belle, Seb hides in an underground cave filled with a massive lake. The lake, despite being on Corinne’s land, is unknown to everyone except Gas and his father Serge. The real reason they are pushing for Corinne to sell the property.

Gas threatens Seb that if he tells anyone about the lake, Belle is done for. Seb stuck to the bargain until he accidentally let slip which set in motion a chain of events one dark and stormy night that changed all of their lives.

Much like the original movie – which is actually based on a TV series from the 60s – Belle and Sebastian: Next Generation is a wonderful family movie. It’s filled with adventure, fun, danger, suspense, death but most of all friendship and family. It ticks all the boxes as it goes through the motion of such a film. Yet it always feels fresh and the way that it’s filmed makes you feel part of the journey.

The cinematography is outstanding as we’re taken on a summer holiday to the French countryside high in the mountains. It’s part of the charm of the story and adds almost another character to this family.

Seb is played by newcomer Robinson Mensah Rouanet. He fits the profile for a new generation of Sebastian to a T. His witt, his charisma all the while oozing coolness will surely be enough to make him some friends. Though that’s not always the case.

This new generation of Belle and Sebastian will surely be one to stick around for another handful of years. It’s a wonderful tale of a boy and his best friend, a dog. Filled with a beautiful summer adventure this is the family movie you didn’t know you had to see.

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