Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues | Movie Review

Last year BELLE & SEBASTIAN (the first one) made my top ten movies of the year. It was an old school movie that harks to films such as THE SOUND OF MUSIC or the weekend matinee LASSIE screenings. Innocent, family-oriented, naive, heartwarming and just beautiful on every level. It stars probably the cutest kid to ever be on screen with the biggest fluffiest white dog of all time. Who wouldn’t want to be Sebastian off on adventures with his dog in the French alps? I remember seeing the LASSIE movies as a kid and this is quite similar but made with an incredible budget. These films looks sublime, you can nearly breath the clean air of the alps and feel the chill off the mountains.

So it was with much glee that I discovered they made a sequel pretty much as soon as the first one was complete. Gaumont saw the success of the first and wanted an immediate follow up no doubt. I was never expecting that. Being a I do not imagine the first one made a huge box office taking in Australia. The sequel was reduced to limited art house screenings for a couple of weeks at Dendy Cinemas in the CBD. I didn’t care, I was stoked.

Off I tramped to Newtown, bought my jug of wine and headed into the cinema to watch the movie all by myself. BELLE & SEBASTIAN: THE CONTINUES is sadly no longer screening. It will hopefully be out on DVD/ Blu Ray in the near future and I recommend it for the youngsters and yourself. It along with the first movie are the perfect introductions to a subtitled movie and it has that superb innocence all children’s movies used to have. They make me feel safe and happy, a cinematic moment of joy away from the shit this planet is regularly sinking into.

 

Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues Australian Movie Poster image

 

BY JASON KING

BELLE & SEBASTIAN: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES SYNOPSIS:

BELLE & SEBASTIAN: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES begins about two years following their Nazi capers of 1943. It is now 1945, spring is in the air and Sebastian has grown another year older. School and post-war normalcy are starting to take over the town, but Sebastian and his fluffy cohort won’t have a bar of it. They are off on adventures and mischief wherever they can find it. Following the end of the war, Angelina is making her way back by plane to be with Sebastian and César (Sebastian’s adopted grandfather for those who haven’t seen the first one). The plane never arrives, and its crash has started a huge forest fire in the woods. Angelina and all on board are presumed dead, but Sebastian will not hear it, his Angelina is alive if only they can get there they will be able to rescue her.

The only way to get that close to the downed plane is to fly and there is only one man in town with a plane. An arrogant tool César doesn’t Sebastian to be around. But he will do anything for Sebastian and Angelina. The arrogant so and so, Pierre, is an angry stupid man, he won’t let anyone into his plane to fly with him but will happily take all of César’s money and fly to the crash site. Belle and Sebastian stowaway on the plane and the adventure begins. An adventure much more than just finding Angelina, could Pierre somehow be related to Sebastian?

 

Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues Félix Bossuet and Belle image

 

DIRECTING & WRITING:

BELLE & SEBASTIAN: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES has a new director from the previous instalment.  is at the helm, you may know him from such U.S. movies as THE ART OF WAR (with Wesley Snipes) or SCREAMERS (with Peter Weller). Duguay respects the tone of the predecessor and as Belle and Sebastian met and bonded already we can get straight into action and adventure. He directs well and keeps the pace running. He does however allow one incredibly bloody stupid plot point make it to the screen and this plot point was so appalling it cost the movie in points from me.

Angelina is alive, no surprise, it’s a happy film where everything will be AOK by the end but Angelina is not only alive but in a cave at the bottom of a cliff, no parachute, nothing at all. It requires ropes and two strong people to reach her – how did she get there? How is everyone else on the plane dead but she is near death but hears Sebastian talking to her and manages to recover almost immediately. I completely understand the movie requires some imagination and suspension of disbelief, it is made for children and I know Skippy could never actually talk but seriously, some realism is required. I could forgive all the lucky escapes in the movie but this was silly.

The writing from Juliette Sales and Fabien Suarez draws inspiration from the original stories of Cécile Aubry. This sequel follows a more straightforward action-filled plot while adding a further personal layer to its predecessor.

HISTORY:

If you didn’t know – a bit of trivia: BELLE & SEBASTIAN is really Belle et Sébastien. It was a famous children’s book written by Cécile Aubry in 1965. It was made into a French live action television series in the same year, a Japanese anime version nearly two decades later and now these two movies. The band Belle and Sebastian is also named after the book and the characters.

 

Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues Félix Bossuet, Thierry Neuvic and Belle image

 

ACTORS:

Belle is looking a little older and wearier in this one – not sure if it was the same dog but I thought a little more sprightly version could have benefitted – not to say I do not love Belle to death – I want giant hugs with her. It is always going to be hard to make an animal movie. There are plenty of scenes that don’t look natural but most of all BELLE & SEBASTIAN is made for kids that really aren’t going to notice.

I just love Félix Basset as Sebastian, his acting has gotten a little more fluid in a year and his cuteness allows him to basically get away with murder. He really carries the movie well and I can’t imagine Sebastian being played by anyone else and I really hope we get another instalment. 

 is, as usual, great. His César is the adult backbone, the wise old man, the experienced actor and also some well timed comic relief. 

was a great addition as Pierre, I liked his character had a history and some depth. His character truly grows on you as he is seduced by the charm of Sebastian. 

And finally the addition of  as Gabrielle worked well although the Gabrielle character would have been better if she was closer to Sebastian’s age. I wasn’t sure if this was some sort of mini love interest for Sebastian, i.e. his first crush. They did have good chemistry but more so as a brother and sister dynamic. 

TECHNICAL:

Technically the film borders on flawless. The cinematography is sublime, the location making it difficult for anything to look bad.

The special effects are also great: the scenes in the plane, the fires, even all the CGI animals, all A-grade stuff. The editing and the music a further addition in making this film look better than a production like this needs. This is part of the reason I love it so much.

 

Belle, Félix Bossuet, Thylane Blonde and Thierry Neuvic image

 

IN CONCLUSION:

I was so happy to be back in the BELLE & SEBASTIAN universe, even if I was a 44yr old child in the cinema with my wine cheering this family film. Sadly it is not as good as the first one but it is a grand adventure with a fine cast, epic production values and two leads you can’t help but fall in love with. This is one your grandparents and parents will love along with you and your children (if you have any), if not I am sure a pet dog will be more than happy to watch with you. I really am hoping for more in the series.

 

3 Pops

 

 

ABOUT YOUR REVIEWER:

 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.