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T.S. Spivet lives on a ranch in Montana with his mother who is obsessed with the morphology of beetles, his father (a cowboy born a hundred years too late) and his 14 year-old sister who dreams of becoming Miss America. T.S. is a 10 year-old prodigy with a passion for cartography and scientific inventions. One day, he receives an unexpected call from the Smithsonian museum telling him that he is the winner of the very prestigious Baird prize for his discovery of the perpetual motion machine and that he is invited to a reception in his honor where he is expected to give a speech. Without telling anyone, he sets out on a freight train across the U.S.A. to reach Washington DC. There is also Layton, twin brother of T.S., who died in an accident involving a firearm in the family's barn, which no one ever speaks of. T.S. was with him, measuring the scale of the gunshots for an experiment, and he doesn't understand what happened.Written by
The first feature film to use the Arri Alexa M camera. See more »
In Chicago, the reflections in T.S.'s train window show a view of the Trump building, the Wrigley building, and the Michigan Avenue bridge. There are no train tracks in Chicago which could provide that view. See more »
Jeunet is, for once, operating outside his usual "comfort zone" and that's not a bad thing at all. While I have come to love him for his unique style, quirky colours, sharp textures and character actors caught by fisheye lenses, sometimes it pays to do something a little more restricted. As a comparison, Lynch's "Straight Story" comes to mind - a director known for decidedly non-mainstream sensibilities shoots a "simple" road movie. And since "The Straight Story" is my favourite Lynch film, that's no small praise! Of course, there's some of Jeunet's trademark whimsical, playful optics on screen, but they never become mere gimmicks but always enhance the storytelling. And some - or probably all - of the most impactful scenes are really simple shots - no gimmicks, no gags, just faces and landscapes. While Jeunet's last, "Micmacs", lost itself a bit among all the optical fireworks and gags, this film here keeps it straight and focused and I liked it only the better for it. Also, the pace is much slower than usual (again, very like "The Straight Story") - most scenes are longer than strictly necessary, giving them time to settle in.
The weakest point may be the actors - the children are not as good as those in "City of lost Children", and most of the grown-ups are a bit one-dimensional. The nice exception being Helena Bonham-Carter who delivers a really fine performance, nuanced like you wouldn't have thought she still had it in her after all the hammed-up roles from the last years.
Overall, probably my second-favourite Jeunet film (have seen it only once at the moment, maybe I'll have to rewrite it a bit after more viewings), highly recommended - and I really hope he does some more "mainstream" projects like this where his playfulness doesn't drown the story!
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