Endearing but Devoid of Conflicts
Vicky And Her Mystery (Mystére in French) is a feel-good film to cap off the festive season.
Vicky And Her Mystery (Mystére in French) is a feel-good film to cap off the festive season. There is an endearing, unshakeable animal-child bond at its centre that is guaranteed to melt hearts, and yet, that isn’t enough to sustain this 90-minute narrative. The film plays almost like a documentary, with personal stories unfolding unobtrusively in the background, while the lens and music give life to the exquisite beauty of the Cantal mountains of Central France.
Stéphane Dutel (Vincent Elbaz) and his eight-year-old, Victoria (Shanna Keil), occupy a near-deserted cabin in an effort to put the pieces back after the passing of the latter’s mother. The young girl remains tight-lipped, barely uttering a word for the first 15 minutes of the story.
All her father’s efforts at engagement are met with resigned silence. It is clear she is struggling to cope with her mother’s loss, being unable to communicate her feelings properly. Stéphane proposes a trek, and while she doesn’t respond, when he threatens to set off on his own, she puts on her shoes and joins him. This is the first moment of life we see in the girl. And then, they—two humans amid vast expanses—meet the puppy called Mystére, a seeming gift from the forest.
The dynamics of how this puppy brings out Victoria from her shell is really well-explored. However, there is not enough conflict. There are a group of agitated farmers who view wolves in the region as a major threat, and then, there’s the conservation angle at play as well, but these angles aren’t enough to keep you hooked. The potentially tragic end and what happens in the aftermath are rather predictable as well.
The film works, if you are quite content with taking in the nuances of animal-human relationship. There’s also the discussion over what a wild animal’s rightful place is. And despite the ‘aww’ factor in this film, I have to say it falls short on account of the stakes never rising too high. Perhaps it works better almost as a documentary, but as a work of fiction, it needed more life. The wonderful aesthetics, however, keep you going.
Vicky And Her Mystery
Director: Denis Imbert