out of Five
Running time: 77
Charming, low-key French drama that plays like a minimalist version of Home Alone meets Into The Wild and succeeds thanks to a winning child performance from adorable little Wynona Ringer, though the ever-present voiceover could probably have been cut down by at least half.
What's it all about?
Directed by Olivier Ringer, On The Sly (or A pas de loup, original title fans) is a low-budget French drama that's been dubbed into English as part of a deliberate movement to get children's films from around the world into cinemas. The director's daughter, Wynona stars as six year old Cathy, who believes she's invisible to her parents, so she decides to test them by disappearing to see if they notice during a visit to the family's holiday home. Unfortunately, they don't notice, so Cathy is left to fend for herself for a few days, sleeping in the empty house before deciding that actually she'd prefer to try her wilderness survival skills in the nearby woods.
Wynona Ringer is adorable as Cathy, playing the role with a deadpan expression that works really well. Cathy proves every bit as resourceful as Home Alone's Macauley Culkin (if not quite as inventive or as vicious) and it's extremely engaging to watch her adapt to her various circumstances.
In addition, Cathy exhibits admirable levels of survivalist-style bravery, whether it's confronting “savage beasts” (dogs) or drinking horrible-looking water. There are also several lovely moments, such as when she finds herself unable to eat the little fish she's just caught, so she carries it around in a bucket for the rest of the film.
The main problem with the film is that the English voiceover is delivered rather flatly, to the point where you start to wish there was a subtitled version and you could hear the original French. Similarly, the voiceover is almost continuous and often unnecessary, because Cathy's actions on screen easily speak for themselves. That said, moments such as Cathy expressing her wish that her father would take her fishing are sure to provoke manly tears in certain sectors.
On the Sly is a charming, offbeat little children's film that's well worth seeking out, whatever your age. Worth seeing.