A Gaumont Columbia Tristar Films release (in France) of a Gaumont presentation of a Biplan Prod., LM Prods., France 2 Cinema, Gaumont (France)/RTL-TVi, Artemis Prods. (Belgium)/Sofilm (Bulgaria) production, with participation of Canal Plus, CineCinema. (International sales: Gaumont, Paris.) Produced by Marc Riviere, Michel Boulau. Executive producer, Farid Chaouche. Co-producers, Patrick Quinet, Patrick Sandrin. Directed, written by Marc Riviere, based on the book by Arto Paasilinna.
A burned-out news photographer recharges his spiritual batteries thanks to the title critter in "The Year of the Hare," a clunky but sincere movie that's rescued from terminal silliness by an adorable bunny and an appealing, if dissonant, score by Goran Bregovic. Christophe Lambert lends his pleasantly goofy demeanor to this disjointed road movie set in Canada but shot in Bulgaria. Tube- and fest-ready fare could be made kid-friendly by snipping a section in which actress Julie Gayet goes topless.
Award-winning shutterbug Tom Vatanen (Lambert) is driving on a country road when the car hits a hare and sends it flying. On the spot, Tom ditches his professional life to care for the animal, which may be the furry incarnation of a warrior who guides lost souls. Man and critter tackle the wilderness, having comic and serious adventures at outposts en route. Lurching from encounter to encounter, pic provides vignettes of healing and reconciliation until the hare's work is done and it can hop onward. If the humans had been as spontaneous, pic might have flowed better. Original Finnish novel was earlier filmed by Risto Jarva in 1977.
Camera (color), Stephan Ivanof; editor, Frederic Fichefet; music, Goran Bregovic; production designer, Prolet Gueorguieva; costume designer, Nathalie Leborgne. Reviewed at UGC Orient Express, Paris, Dec. 29, 2006. Running time: 98 MIN.