The Young and Prodigious T S Spivet
It’s been 13 years since Jean-Pierre Jeunet released Amelie, an enchantingly romantic film that changed the face of French cinema in mainstream markets, placing it high on every must-see movie list since. Now the writer/director is back with another quirky tale, this time set deep within the rolling hills of Montana on a ranch. It follows the story of young genius T S Spivet as he and his family deal with the loss of his brother.
The film encompasses Jeunet’s signature highly saturated look, the shots glow with a warm and memorable pallette, which looks stunning on the wide corn fields of the Montana countryside. Unusually T S Spivet is a 3D film, showing that the new technology is not just benefitting the summer blockbusters but can add depth and intensity to even family dramas. It is the first film to use the Arri Alexa M, a camera specially tailored for high action shots and 3D productions. Jeunet has obviously upped his game in the technology department, though unfortunately his structure and characters seem to have suffered.
Jeunet’s prior films are bursting with lovable, unconventional characters that light up his stories and stay close in the hearts of his audiences. From the quirky loveliness of Amelie Poulain, the peculiar bravery of the anarchist vegetarians in Delicatessen and the bravado of the circus performers in MicMacs, the characters are themselves works of art. However, T S Spivet and his family lack wholeness and heart; they feel false and undeveloped.
Helena Bonham Carter takes a night off from being Mrs Burton to play the wide-eyed and kooky mourning mother. While her performance is undoubtedly good, it’s not enough to save this film from its convoluted story. The film rests wholly on the small shoulders of newcomer Kyle Catlett, as his portrayal of inventing runaway Spivet is the majority of the film – it’s a large cross to bear and sadly Catlett is just not strong enough.
See this film for the remarkable cinematography but leave expectations at the door.
The Young and Prodigious T S Spivet is released nationwide on 13th June 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Young and Prodigious T S Spivet here: