Let’s be candid: Canada is one of the innovators in animation, yet homegrown animated features remain unfortunately rare. It’s welcome news to report, then, that Felix and the Treasure of Morgäa is a spirited animated adventure. The film is the latest from 10e ave Productions, which delivered the first all-Canadian CGI feature The Legend of Sarila. (Sarila’s director, Nancy Florence Savard, is a producer here.) Directed by Nicola Lemay in his feature directorial debut, Felix and the Treasure of Morgäa is an entertaining quest that should connect with young audiences and families. Moreover, the film has a great sense of place as Lemay and his team root the story in the waters of Quebec and make the coastline a prominent figure. The film beautifully evokes the sea of possibilities its young adventurer embraces.
The titular Felix, voiced by Daniel Brochu, is a 12-year-old boy on a journey. His mother, Marlene (Holly Gauthier-Frankel) is off to sea for some R&R on a cruise. Unbeknownst to Marlene, Felix has similar plans and motivation. It’s been two years since his father disappeared at sea and he needs to ease his mind. Felix therefore plays hooky on his aunt and escapes to sea. He’s accompanied by his scene-stealing cat Rover, who humorously acts like a dog, and aided by an aged sailor named Tom (Vlasta Vrana). Together, they navigate the choppy waters in search of the fabled treasure that Felix’s father was after when he disappeared. Naturally, the treasure hunters encounters both riches and fool’s gold.
Morgäa, Island Boss Bitch
The film, somewhat randomly, cuts to a subterranean amphitheatre packed with an awed crowd. The onlookers gaze at a peppy speaker, Morgäa (Karine Vanasse), a charismatic leader who’s seen a healthy mix of Ted Talks and Saturday morning cartoons. Morgäa rules the island as a megalomaniacal villain/boss bitch in a pantsuit. Her pyramid scheme involves some shady investors, priceless treasure, and the quest for eternal youth. (The film might have done better to introduce Morgäa from the outset, which could have added dramatic tension to Felix’s journey at sea.)
As the stories converge, Felix inevitably encounters the treasure he seeks. It’s more than he, Tom, or even Rover bargained. However, at the heart of Felix’s quest is a discovery about the importance of family and a confrontation with what he values in life.
The Treasure of Place
The script by Marc Robitaille admirably stays focused on Felix, his family, and Morgäa. Working with three narrative threads—the boy on the island, the fashionable villain in her lair, and family back home in Quebec—Felix and the Treasure of Morgäa plays the characters’ encounters off one another nicely. Robitaille’s script also has a timeless quality as it focuses on character and locality. This fable endears itself to audiences without the (annoying) potpourri of pop culture references one finds in Hollywood animation. The script keeps things simple for young audiences without insulting their emotional intelligence.
Felix and the Treasure of Morgäa also visualizes the adventure quite handsomely. The animation team finds a sweet spot between fantasy and reality while creating Felix’s world. On one hand, the misshapen humans (and the spirited performances by the actors) create an air of escapism through the characters’ offbeat personalities. Moreover, the story evokes a journey to a faraway land, while also feeling rooted in reality. Felix and the Treasure of Morgäa features a striking sense of place and a firm grasp of what one’s homeland means to one’s identity as Felix navigates waters that are tangibly symbolic. The CGI also holds up to some Hollywood productions—something local audiences will treasure while seeing a landscape that’s unmistakably Quebecois.