Film

Film

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Returning to the territory of his 1989 hit The Bear, Jean-Jacques Annaud delivers another refreshingly mature fable of bestial devotion, and nearly redeems himself following a decade of stinkers like Seven Years in Tibet. The two brothers, Koumal and Sangha, are Bengal tiger cubs whose idyllic existence in deepest French Indochina comes to an end when a hunting expedition (led by a stylishly khakied Guy Pearce) annihilates their family. As in The Bear, Annaud eschews animal voice-over and visual F/X in favor of live, almost wordless action. The result is the humanization of animals and the animalization of humans—the latter embodied by a supporting cast of fat imperialists and their sneaky Oriental subjects. After years in captivity, Koumal and Sangha are reunited, all grown up and ready to kick some Homo sapien butt. The sight of a rampaging feline duo may recall the Siegfried and Roy mauling, but in the end, Annaud’s beasts are harmless—huggable toys with big hearts.

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