Many a hardened adult has broken into a pool of tears watching Hachiko the dog go to the station every day at 5 pm, to wait for his human, in the 2009 English film Hachi (adaptation of an equally moving 1987 Japanese original). Just a year before, it was the lighter but endearing ‘Marley & Me’ about a family and their dog, that had moved viewers. There have been a whole host of dog-centric films since, that have tried to recreate the same kind of magic, some managing to win viewers’ hearts, others not so much. The 2021 French film ‘Mystere’ falls somewhere in between.

Titled ‘Victoria & Her Mystery’ in English, this Netflix movie directed by Denis Imbert, borrows heavily from a whole lot of films, even though it does have an interesting story at the heart of it. It’s about how little Victoria who recently lost her mother, finds happiness in a little puppy an old stranger gifts her. Both Victoria and her puppy are so adorable, anybody with a soft corner for canines will be able to stay on till the end of the movie. And with a lesser than 90 minute runtime, keeping your attention up isn’t hard.

Vincent Elbaz (who looks a lot like Matthew McConaughey) plays Stephane Dutel, Victoria doting dad, who is also a surgeon. Now here’s the weird part, despite being a surgeon, Vincent never once thinks of taking this new little puppy to a vet for vaccination or any kind of basic check-up. For an overprotective doctor dad, that bit was a glaring loophole in the script. Apart from that, most of the story was believable, with a good ‘man vs animal’ conflict theme.

Shot around some beautiful mountains, viewers get gorgeous views of the French countryside. Some of the scenes involving the animals are impressively shot, leaving you in brief awe for the production team. Because they either brilliantly trained the animals, or have an insanely talented CGI team – the scenes all look authentic. Mystere, the titular animal protagonist is definitely the showstopper of them movie, although, he feels a little too docile than even the tamest of dogs. How he grows from a cute little thing to a giant softie was heart-warming.

There’s a small little twist towards the climax, where things get tense, and you expect a dramatic emotional flourish, but it never gets there. The ending is neat and sweet enough, but just doesn’t move you. An adorable but forgettable film. A good enough pick to watch with the family on the weekend.

It’s a 6/10 from me.

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