A whimsical hand-drawn animation concerned with the woes of consumerism that wonderfully embraces the mischievous spirit of its eccentric Finnish creator, the late, great Tove Jansson, this light-hearted cartoon sees the Moomins take a jaunt along the French Riviera.
Here, their bond is tested by the lure of celebrity and possessions. It’s based on an original comic strip, inspired by Tove’s own visit to the region with her mother, and much of it still rings true today.
Moominpappa becomes embroiled in the high stakes of the art world, while Snorkmaiden’s sudden obsession with fashion adds another amusing layer to the story.
Her attempt to squeeze into a size-eight bikini brilliantly skews the absurdity of the pressure to conform to societal norms. Moomintroll (voiced by Russell Tovey) and Moominmamma are simply bemused by the whole situation.
Despite the fearless scamp Little My not appearing in the original comic strip, she is a welcome addition here, and it’s a real treat to watch her as she acts as something of a moral compass for the Moomin family.
Mindful of the French setting, the writers imbue the playful deadpan humour of Jacques Tati when it comes to the superficiality of the exaggerated elite characters we meet on the Riviera.
Cheeky real-life references are made throughout, including a character named Audrey Glamour, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Audrey Hepburn. The Sixties-style audio accompaniment further pays homage to Tati, and adds to its snappy charm.
The Moomins enter a world they don’t understand, and realise they don’t have to be a part of it if they so choose, delivering a positively uplifting and enriching message no matter what your age.
Watching the Moomins clash with the glamorous lifestyle is a delight, but it is a shame that Moominvalley only makes a swift appearance as does the wise old Snufkin.
Some of its surreal edge is lost in the changing of location, but Jansson’s zingy one-liners are still as good as ever.