×

On the Sly

A charming leap into the midl of a child that offers rewards for kids and adults alike.

With:
With: Wynona Ringer, Olivier Ringer, Macha Ringer, Ursula Noyer, Pierre Leroux. (French dialogue)

Tired of being ignored by her parents, a little girl hides in the woods in “On the Sly,” a charming leap into the mind of a child that offers rewards for kids and adults alike. A true family affair (multihyphenate Olivier Ringer cast his daughter Wynona in the lead), the pic is informed by forest-set fairy tales and perhaps even a bit of Mark Twain, conjuring a young girl’s perspective by almost exclusively using an interior monologue. The results are entirely winning and easily dubbable for maximum theatrical and DVD exposure across multiple territories.

Every Friday evening, 6-year-old Cathy (Wynona Ringer) gets strapped into the backseat of the family car for the drive with her parents (Olivier Ringer, Macha Ringer) to their country house. Each time, once securely buckled, she’s ignored. Helmer Ringer captures the inner bargains kids make, the “if Mom notices me, then it means I’m important” sort of thing, focusing exclusively on Cathy’s p.o.v. (her parents’ heads are barely seen, or are seen only at a distance).

Popular on Variety

From the auds’ standpoint as much as from Cathy’s, her parents really do ignore her. When it’s time to go back to their home in Paris, Cathy lets the car door slam without her, and her folks drive off. Once they realize she’s not there and pull up to the house again, Cathy decides she’s better off in the woods rather than risk an unholy scolding.

As viewers of all ages automatically summon up memories of Hansel and Gretel or Jack and the Beanstalk, Cathy takes to the woods with unsqueamish determination, befriending a fish, building a small hut for herself and hiding from search parties. Things don’t change until her father finally starts thinking with his daughter’s kind of imagination.

Ringer’s decision to focus everything on the little girl and her viewpoint pays off in spades, conjuring a world of the imagination grounded in reality — no fairies, no talking animals. His woods bear the possibility of small dangers but no glowering glades, so even the smallest tots won’t be frightened. They will, however, recognize their own particular methods of reasoning, and the yearning all kids feel for parents as playmates as well as nurturers.

Young Wynona Ringer is delightful, unaffectedly intelligent and eagerly plunging into the spirit of adventure. Widescreen visuals are classically attractive, whether lensing Paris at night or the sylvan brooks and hollows of the forest; the format’s emphasis on the horizontal was the perfect choice to replicate a child’s perspective. Unfortunately, the digital projection reduced tonal warmths and added an unwanted sharpness. Music slightly swells up at times, but avoids pushing sentimentality.

On the Sly

Belgium-France

Production: A Ring Prod., Les Films d'Antoine production. (International sales: Delphis Films, Montreal.) Produced by Yves Ringer, Antoine Simkine. Directed, edited by Olivier Ringer. Screenplay, Olivier Ringer, Yves Ringer.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Olivier Ringer; music, Bruno Alexiu; sound, Vincent Mauduit. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation Kplus), Feb. 12, 2011. Running time: 77 MIN.

With: With: Wynona Ringer, Olivier Ringer, Macha Ringer, Ursula Noyer, Pierre Leroux. (French dialogue)

More Film

  • The Nest

    'The Nest': Film Review

    All work and no play makes Rory O’Hara a dull boy — which is to say, one can scarcely overlook the connections between Sean Durkin’s subtly unsettling second feature, “The Nest,” and Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” Although the obsessive dad Law plays here doesn’t go unhinged quite so spectacularly as Jack Nicholson did after moving the [...]

  • Tiziana Soudani

    Tiziana Soudani, Prominent Swiss Producer, Dies

    Swiss producer Tiziana Soudani, who through her Amka Films shepherded prizewinning films by prominent directors from nearby Italy, such as Alice Rohrwacher and Silvio Soldini, as well as by emerging talents in Switzerland and Africa, has died after a struggle with brain cancer. She was in her mid 60s, though her exact age was not immediately verifiable. [...]

  • Time's Up U.K. Teams With British

    British Stars Carey Mulligan, Himesh Patel Compile 'Alternative BAFTA' Nominees List

    British stars including Carey Mulligan, Himesh Patel and Gemma Arterton have contributed to an ‘Alternative BAFTAs’ list of nominees that honors talent overlooked by this year’s awards. The campaign is organized by Time’s Up U.K., which is rolling out a social media blitz this week in the lead-up to Sunday’s BAFTA awards honoring the women [...]

  • Rebecca Hall appears in The Night

    'The Night House': Film Review

    A knack for creepy atmospherics and individual scares goes a long way in the horror genre, and it takes “The Night House” pretty far. Though this tale of a new widow’s apparent haunting gets progressively lost in a narrative maze that’s complicated without being particularly rewarding, . Rebecca Hall plays Beth, an upstate New York [...]

  • Herself

    Amazon Studios Buys Phyllida Lloyd's 'Herself' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has nabbed North American rights to Phyllida Lloyd’s “Herself,” an Irish drama about a woman who builds her dream house after escaping an abusive marriage, Variety has learned.  The streaming service is planning a theatrical release for later this year. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, where it enjoyed a warm [...]

  • Blast Beat

    'Blast Beat': Film Review

    Back home in Bogota, teen brothers Carly and Mateo — played by siblings (and Disney Channel veterans) Mateo and Moisés Arias — are metal-blasting, skateboard-riding punks, and reluctant partners in crime. Carly, the sensible one, can’t prevent Mateo from dynamiting a dollhouse. But he’ll swoop in, hair flapping like a vampire’s cape, to rescue his [...]

  • Rebecca Hall appears in The Night

    Rebecca Hall's 'The Night House' Sells to Searchlight Out of Sundance

    Searchlight Pictures is closing in on the worldwide distribution rights to “The Night House,” a supernatural thriller that premiered to strong reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, insiders close to the deal said. Directed by David Bruckner and starring Rebecca Hall, the deal is reportedly valued at roughly $12 million. It marks the first [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content