The story is as simple and clean as the pastel-washed visual compositions in Rémi Chayé’s animated adventure about a Russian nobleteen who sets out to restore her family’s honor by finding the ship her grandfather took on his expedition to the North Pole. And also, she hopes, her grandfather, whose temperamental, adventurous spirit she inherited. (No trouble is taken over why Grandpa would flee a comfortable existence to brave the empty northern wastes: the glory of discovery and the self-assertion of planting a flag are taken as self-evident goods, at least by our heroine. It certainly looks better than the alternative embodied by her father: a life of currying favor and navigating the thorny thickets of polite society.) What it lacks in invention and tension, it makes up in painterly beauty and a kind of tough sweetness that is never in danger of spoiling into sentimentality. In French with English subtitles. (2016) — Matthew Lickona
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