Home The Elfkins

The Elfkins (PG)

Cast: Erik Hansen, Liam Mockridge, Valentin Beinhold, Rivka Rothstein
Genre: Family
Author(s): Jan Strathmann
Director: Ute von Munchow-Pohl
Release Date: 02/10/2020
Running Time: 77mins
Country: Ger
Year: 2019

Elfkins live below the streets of Cologne in a quaint village hidden from prying eyes. Elders Brimur and Vendla encourage members of the tribe to nurture a craft - carpentry, embroidery, shoemaking - while instilling a fear of hulking humans. Spirited outcast Elfie has yet to discover her artisan calling. She ventures above ground to meet a human, who can teach her a craft. Two fellow Elfkins, Buck and Kipp, follow her and they encounter kindly baker Theo, whose family business faces ruin.


 

LondonNet Film Review
The Elfkins (PG)

A good heart and a generous spirit bake the difference in director Ute von Munchow-Pohl’s computer-animated odyssey, inspired by the cautionary tale of the Heinzelmannchen of Cologne. Dubbed rather than subtitled for young audiences on this side of the English Channel, The Elfkins appropriates a couple of key ingredients from Pixar’s Oscar-winning 2007 comedy Ratatouille to unite two worlds in pursuit of a perfectly flaky tart and moreish macaron. Munchow-Pohl’s recipe largely ignores narrative and visual sophistication and the surprisingly quick cooking time, 77 minutes, risks an unappealing soggy bottom especially when the script insists on drizzling on the syrupy sentimentality…

Technical limitations to the animation are evident in cutesy character design and the renderings of a baby and dog, which play pivotal roles in a frenetic chase sequence around city streets. Tellingly, shelves laden with baked goods heaving with brightly coloured frosting and sprinkles fail to convince stomachs to rumble. The thorny, and timely, question of elf and safety in a working kitchen that serves cakes to the public is casually ignored to move the linear plot from dough to doh! as quickly as possible.

For centuries, residents of Cologne have been raised on bedtime stories of benevolent gnome-like creatures, who visit the city under the cover of darkness and lovingly carry out repairs. The legend is true. Elfkins live below ground in the sewers in a quaint village hidden from prying eyes. Elders Brimur (voiced by Matthew Burton) and Vendla (Suzanne Ritter) encourage members of the tribe to nurture a craft – carpentry, embroidery, shoemaking – while instilling a fear of hulking humans.

Spirited outcast Elfie (Rivka Rothstein) has yet to discover her artisan calling. Her latest invention, an automated turnip harvester, malfunctions badly and Vendla loudly proclaims, “You’ll never turn into a real Elfkin”. Elfie vows to prove her doubters wrong and she ventures above ground to meet a human, who can teach her a craft. Two fellow Elfkins, Buck (Valentin Beinhold) and Kipp (Liam Mockridge), follow her and they encounter kindly baker Theo (Erik Hansen), whose family business is about to be bulldozed by his jealous brother Bruno (Steve Jacob). Elfie pledges to save the ailing enterprise if Theo will teach her to bake with brio. An unlikely union is forged and hungry customers flock to sample Theo’s famous fresh cream spires.

The Elfkins rises under the gentle heat of Munchow-Pohl’s direction, which prioritises whirling spectacle over heartfelt emotion. Bruno is a tepid antagonist and there is an inevitable sweetness to the resolution of hostilities between estranged siblings. Jan Strathmann’s script briskly kneads together required elements but lacks the exquisite finishing touches that could elevate a half-baked caper into a truly unforgettable confection.

– Sarah Lee


London Cinemas Showing The Elfkins


From: Friday 26th November
To: Thursday 2nd December

Empire Walthamstow

Sat/Sun 11:45

From: Friday 3rd December
To: Thursday 9th December

Empire Walthamstow

Sat/Sun 11:15

UK and Irish Cinemas Showing The Elfkins


From: Friday 26th November
To: Thursday 2nd December

Empire Clydebank

Sat/Sun 11:00

Empire High Wycombe

Sat/Sun 10:30

Empire Ipswich

Sat/Sun 10:50

Empire Slough

Sat/Sun 11:15

Empire Sunderland

Sat/Sun 10:30

Empire Sutton

Sat/Sun 10:50

Empire Wigan

Sat/Sun 11:30

From: Friday 3rd December
To: Thursday 9th December

Empire Clydebank

Sat/Sun 11:00

Empire High Wycombe

Sat/Sun 10:45

Empire Ipswich

Sat/Sun 10:50

Empire Slough

Sat/Sun 11:00

Empire Sunderland

Sat/Sun 10:30

Empire Sutton

Sat/Sun 11:30

Empire Wigan

Sat/Sun 11:00