AFI Fest: The Strange Little Cat (★½)

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Strange Little CatThere’s nothing strange about the cat in German director Ramon Zürcher‘s film The Strange Little Cat.

That isn’t a spoiler, it’s just a fact. Another fact is that the cat is pretty much the only thing that isn’t strange in the entire movie.

Taking place during a single day in a family’s apartment, and almost entirely in the kitchen, The Strange Little Cat opens on a mother and her young daughter having breakfast. Slowly, other members of the family emerge to start their day. As time passes, extended family members arrive, there is a lot of chaos and commotion, a family dinner, and then they all leave together to attend a performance of some kind.

It’s a simple story, but full of the idiosyncrasies of family life. There is the young daughter who inexplicably screams along with kitchen appliances, a grandmother who sleeps through all of the noise and bustle in the next room, and a cousin who wanders through the apartment without ever saying much to anyone.

None of the actors particularly stand out and are, in fact, rather dull. They tell random stories to one another in a dispassionate way, as if they themselves are not even sure of the point in telling them.

There are some funny moments, like when the neighbor boy accidentally kicks his ball through the open kitchen window and asks for it back with that charming and annoying persistence that so many children share.

Strange Little Cat

And there are some interesting choices made by cinematographer Alexander Haßkerl as he attempts to capture the mundane reality of everyday life. The writing and editing were also done by Zürcher and he really doesn’t do a very good job of keeping a steady pace throughout.

Ultimately, this isn’t a particularly interesting film and it feels much longer than its 72-minute running time. Plotless and plodding, The Strange Little Cat almost drags the viewer through this family’s day, rather than allowing it to be experienced and explored.