Original title:Vaillante
Director:Laurent Zeitoun, Theodore Ty
Running time:93 minutes
Release date:13 july 2022
Since she was a child, Georgia Nolan has had only one ambition: to become a fireman like her father! Unfortunately, in New York in 1932, women are not allowed to practice this profession. When the city's firemen disappear one by one in mysterious fires in Broadway theaters, Georgia sees a golden opportunity: she disguises herself as a man and joins the team of rookie firemen in charge of stopping the arsonist! It's the beginning of an adventure as hilarious as it is breathtaking!

Mulder's Review

In general, when we go to the cinema to see an animated film, it is a new production from Walt Disney Studios (Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar), Illumination Entertainment or even Sony Pictures Animation and in a few rare cases Japanese animated films (we can never thank the distributor Eurozoom enough for offering us tastefully selected Japanese films). However, it must be recognized that France is able to stand up to the hegemony of American and Japanese studios by offering animated films of undeniable quality, such as the recently released The Summit of the Gods by Patrick Imbert and the much awaited Vaillant by Laurent Zeitoun and Theodore Ty. It is no coincidence that this film will also be distributed later this year in the United States by Entertainment One with an excellent voice cast with Olivia Cooke, Kenneth Branagh, Laurie Holden, Mara Junot and notably William Shatner. Preceded by excellent feedback during its numerous previews in France, notably at the Grand Rex, Laurent Zeitoun's first animated film, co-directed with Theodore Ty, shows that he is not only an excellent producer and screenwriter but also a real director capable of holding our attention throughout the story.

After an introductory scene taking place in the 1920s in New York and introducing us to the six-year-old Giorgia Nolan who dreams of following in her father's footsteps and becoming a firefighter, Shawn Nolan, like him and thus saving lives and showing exemplary courage every day. Yet her father has given up his profession to become a professional tailor and informs her that to be a firefighter you have to be a man. Disappointed to see her dreams shattered, Giorgia Nolan decides to show her father that she has moved on. Yet she hides from him that her desire to become the first female firefighter is deeply rooted in her DNA. Ten years later, Gorgia works with her father as a seamstress, but continues to train athletically to become a firefighter. When a mysterious arsonist endangers New York City by setting numerous fires and kidnapping all the firefighters, Shawn Nolan is forced to return to duty and assemble a team to investigate. Giorgia sees this as an opportunity to fulfill her dream and disguises herself as a man named Joe to bring help to her father. However, she does not realize that many dangers will arise before her and that a mystery related to her childhood will resurface about who she really is.

Fireheart is a true family entertainment that can appeal to young audiences as well as to movie lovers of all ages. The great care taken in the writing of this film allows it to capture our attention without any slackening and especially to show us that this French-Canadian production is well capable of playing on the same playing field as the big American productions. In the same way, the reconstitution of New York brings an undeniable added value not only by its numerous imposing buildings but also by its numerous streets allowing to stage real speed races in which the fire truck must drive at full speed and find shortcuts.  The only small defect to be pointed out would be the use of a song of Wham from the 80's whereas the action of the film is supposed to take place in the 30's.  Certainly it is used for a very successful scene that will remind many of one of the scenes in the film of Sam Raimi Spider-man 3 (2007).

It is also original in such an animation film oriented rather towards action and comedy to propose a caricature of the world of show business and politics. Between a mayor ready to do anything to get reelected and a singer with a strong character, the secondary characters also benefit from a real psychological thickness and presence on the screen. In mocking the New York entertainment industry, Fireheart reveals a perfectly mastered script that leaves nothing to chance.

The original French voice casting is also one of the assets of this animated film and we appreciate to find in the role of Shawn Nolan the excellent actor Vincent Cassel. The voice of this one brings a real authority to his character and talents of leader and thoughtful man on the actions he must undertake. The actress Alice Pol is a bold choice to give voice to a child, but the result is perfectly effective. The actress gives way to her character and gives her a strength and a certain fragility. The rest of the cast is completed by Valérie Lemercier, Elie Semoun and Claudia Tagbo.

Laurent Zeitoun, director, producer and screenwriter, has succeeded in bringing to life a perfectly mastered adventure film that will also remind many of Ron Howard's Backdraft (1991) and that not only pays tribute to firefighters but also rightly defends the importance of women in our society, who are just as capable of accomplishing feats as men and demonstrating stamina, strength and a will to succeed.  The film also celebrates the fact that to succeed you have to work as a team and fight for your dreams. This is a great animated film that we recommend you see on the big screen.

Directed by Laurent Zeitoun, Theodore Ty
Produced by Laurent Zeitoun, Yann Zenou, François-Xavier Aubague, Valérie d'Auteuil, André Rouleau 
Written by Laurent Zeitoun, Lisa Hunter, Jennica Harper, Daphne Ballon 
With original voices: Alice Pol, Vincent Cassel, Valérie Lemercier, Elie Semoun, Claudia Tagbo, Emmanuel Curtil, Alexandre Nguyen, Emmanuel Garijo, Éloïse Charpentier, Jérémy Bardeau, Philippe Beautier 
With American voices: Olivia Cooke, Kenneth Branagh, Laurie Holden, Ryan W. Garcia, Mara Junot, William Shatner, Maya Misaljevic
Music: Chris Egan
Cinematography: Jericca Cleland
Editing: Stéphane Garnier, Robert Yates
Production companies: Main Journey, Caramel Film and Anton
Distributed by SND (France), Entertainment One (USA)
Release date: February 2, 2022 (France), July 13, 2022 (United States)
Running time: 93 minutes

Seen on January 26, 2022 (press screener)

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