kitty, chloe sevigny, shatterbox film, kitty by chloe sevigny

Kitty, is a short film by Chloë Sevigny (her breakout as a director), that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016.

The 15 minute film is an adaptation of a short story by Paul Bowles, and centres on a little girl named Catherine (Kitty) who dreams of becoming a cat.

She dreams and dreams and dreams and then one day she wakes up with a pink nose and delicate whiskers.

She asks the adults around her if they appreciate her transformation. To her neighbour she asks, “do you like my fine whiskers? my velvety ears?” And to her mother, “do you like the colour of my fur?”

Their answers are distracted and unhelpful to the little girl who seems to be overjoyed with her transformation, albeit perhaps a bit suprised that it actually happened.

We next see Kitty waking up from what appears to have been a very luxurious cat-nap, and she now has claws growing from the ends of her fingers. She runs out of her house and begins stalking a bird, creeping towards it on hands and knees, ever so carefully. 

Light and shadow dance across the screen, and after a magical transformation, out of Catherine's white lace sundress appears a young grey cat with Kitty’s marked blue eyes, very happy in her new kitten body.

The downside is that her parents believe she’s run away, or been kidnapped (catnapped?). We see her mother's distraught face and downcast eyes, as she inhales deeply from Katherine's white dress, while being questioned by the police.

As hauntingly beautiful music plays, we then see Kitty being welcomed into the neighbour's arms and fed a saucer of cream. The woman is overjoyed by Kitty's appearance and holds her lovingly in  her arms.

Eventually Kitty is reunited with her mother, who picks her up and is similarly overcome with love and tender emotion.

"Oh the pretty pussycat, where did you come from?" she asks while scratching the purring Kitty tenderly under her chin. We then watch the mother carry Kitty into the house, and the screen fades to black.

So... what was the point of all this?

In addition to the idea of the fickle nature of love, and the suppression of women's voices, the end scene of the mother-kitty reunion, is perhaps the strongest metaphor that caught my eye. 

We watch this woman experience the filling of an internal void by the soft warmth of a cat (a feeling that we here at The Kitten Life know all to well): a void that's suggested to have not been filled by her daughter. Whether she's been living with the heaviness of this void for years, and/or later would return to living with it, is unknown. We only know that in the scenes where we see the mother interacting with her daughter before she becomes a cat, she was unengaged and uninterested in the girl, but as a kitten, she now loves and appreciates her.

We watch the transformation of a girl into something she's not, and she goes from unwanted to wanted by the people closest to her.

Is the question: is it better to live life as a kitten? Or, is life a bizarre fantasy world that shouldn't be taken too seriously, because we neither control the world around us, nor how we're perceived by others, regardless of what we do or who we become?

All in all, it's a visual feast of beautiful images shot beautifully, accompanied by beautiful music. I felt as though Sevigny used the opportunity to paint a picture, rather than tell a story, and there’s nothing bad about that if you find yourself keen on filling 15 minutes of your time with kitty-licious scenes of pastoral, kitten-related serenity.

Watch the full thing below and let us know what you think!