In their first feature film, Tove Jansson’s much loved Finn family Moomintrolls leave their Nordic home for the glamour of the French Riviera, with inevitably chaotic results.
Xavier Picard’s adaptation of Jansson’s characters perfectly captures the innocent charm of the Moomin stories. The hand drawn animation remains true to Jansson’s illustrations in all their eccentric detail and captures a nostalgic look that offers a refreshing alternative to more mainstream children’s animation, and is no less captivating judging by the engrossed under 10s surrounding us in the theatre.
The story is adapted from one of Jansson’s comic strips, and sees the Moomin Family and familiar supporting characters like the philosophical Snufkin and fiery Little My, grappling with shipwrecked pirates before setting sail to the Riviera, a sharp contrast from their peaceful and eccentric home in Moomin Valley. While young Snorkmaiden (Stephanie Winiecki) has her head firmly turned by the glitz of the wealthy characters on the Riviera, Moominmamma (Tracey Ann Oberman) remains reassuringly down to earth, more worried about her gardening than the casinos. With a flooded hotel room, an unpaid hotel bill and a troupe of stone elephants left in their wake, chaos ensues but of course all ends happily, with the Moomins safely back in Moomin valley and Moominpapa happy to “live in peace, plant potatoes and dream”.
Whilst the story is somewhat rambling in parts, at its core is an appealing message about the nature of real happiness, the appeal of a simpler, slower life and the importance of family and friends that fans will recognize from the books, told with a lightness of touch that never becomes too worthy.
Moomins on the Riviera will undoubtedly captivate audiences young and old, introducing the quiet charms of the Moomin family to a new generation and reminding older viewers why these magical characters have a special place in their heart. In cinemas now.