When the Cat’s Away

Director: Cedric Klapisch
Screenwriters: Cedric Klapisch

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


A missing cat provides the key to the locked-up secrets of a Paris neighborhood in Cédric Klapisch’s charming When the Cat’s Away. Searching for her lost pet, a young woman finds much more—romance, adventure, and perhaps an understanding of the world around her. Chloé’s life is a mess. She hates her job, and the only man in her life is her gay housemate Michel. Companionship in her run-down suburb seems limited to her cat Gris-Gris. Unfortunately Gris-Gris can’t come with her on vacation, so Chloé seeks help from eccentric Mademoiselle Renée, an older woman with several cats.

Chloé returns to find Mademoiselle Renée thoroughly distraught because Gris-Gris has disappeared. As they search, Chloé engages in a picaresque series of misadventures, getting to know people she would never have otherwise met. The film becomes a vivid, loving portrait of a community in Paris on the verge of disappearing. Marked by a light, sweet sense of humor, When the Cat’s Away explores its surroundings with genuine affection. Klapisch shot this film in a semi-improvisational way, quietly observing the lives of Chloé’s neighbors, many played by nonactors. The result is an easy-going film that meanders in unexpected and delightful directions, buoyed by exuberant performances.

— Piers Handling, Toronto Film Festival

Screening Details

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