The sweetest young orphans one could possibly imagine get saved by a middle-class Marseille couple in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” a blizzard of cloying sentiment not to be confused with Hollywood’s like-titled Hemingway adaptation from 1952. Inspired by a Victor Hugo poem, French director Robert Guediguian (“The Army of Crime”) returns to the small-scale work with which he began his career in 1980, ladling on the syrup in an ingratiating bid to melt bourgeois hearts. While Ariane Ascaride and Jean-Pierre Darroussin are endearing enough as the middle-aged do-gooders, the forecast calls for “Snows” to fall mainly in Gaul.
Implausibly contrived to rhyme with Hugo’s “How Good Are the Poor,” pic has its happily marrieds turning the other cheek after they’re tied up, beaten and robbed by the orphans’ downtrodden older brother, Christophe (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet). Guediguian may intend to salute, per Hugo, the goodness of the poor. However, as Christophe remains callously unrepentant for the crime (while his siblings remain merely adorable), the film favors a couple that’s underemployed but sufficiently comfy to give money away. Super 16 lensing lends the obligatory hint of grit to a classy production.