January 23, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

WHEN THE CAT’S AWAY… Garance Clavel, Renee Le Calm (1996, Columbia TriStar, R, $98.99, subtitled) This brilliant slice of urban life by French filmmaker Cedric Klapisch stars the beguiling Clavel as Chloe, a disenchanted makeup artist who returns from vacation to discover her beloved black cat has eluded the care of an elderly cat sitter (Le Calm). The neighborhood search marshals a motley crew and forges unlikely friendships, flirtations, and, finally, love. This valentine verite also tells the unromantic tale of a working-class neighborhood in the throes of gentrification. The camera stalking graffiti-sprayed streets with the intensity of a jungle cat and the acid-jazz soundtrack set a hip pace. A

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