French auteur Jean Pierre Jeunet gave the world ‘Amelie’, Delicatessen and ‘The City of Lost Children’ and now he gives us the young (and prodigous) T.S. Spivet, a 10 year old cartographer – a child genius who secretly leaves his family’s ranch in Montana to travel across country on board a freight train to receive an award at the Smithsonian Institute for the invention of perpetual motion!
He also gives us the film in English! Not his first (Alien: Resurrection) English language title this is though somewhat of a departure. Parents Callum Keith Rennie (antisocial and insensitive) and Helen Bonham Carter (obsessed entomologist) are well cast while T.S. (Kyle Catlett) is always watchable as the nervous and alienated youngster. Also good to see Jenuet regular Dominique Pinon again…
The film, which is based on American author Reif Larsen's 2009 debut novel, plays with charts, diagrams and schematics, which detail the young man’s imagination. The lad is a sensitive soul, clearly precocious beyond his years yet is brave too as his travels inevitably put him in contact with many characters, not all friendly.
Essentially a road movie with unreal roads in a day-glow fantasy of typical Jeunet proportions – a balance of whimsical absurdities and thoughtful grotesques. His films are particular, rather charming visions; sublime, sometimes twisted works of fantasy – here his outsiders vision of America is interesting and certainly aesthetically pleasing - as warm as it is weird, with more than a touch of magical realism.