For over 20 years French writer-director Jean-Pierre Jeunet has chronicled the human condition through his visually stunning fantasies.
His eye-catchingly dark debut ‘Delicatessen’ and the beautiful Oscar-nominated ‘Amelie’ are prime examples.
‘T.S. Spivet’ is a similarly magical journey of self-discovery based on a book by Reif Larsen, who has co-written this script.
It centres on a 10-year-old prodigy, who must travel more than 1,700 miles from his family’s ranch in Montana to Washington D.C. to collect a prestigious prize.
T.S. (Kyle Catlett) lives with his cowboy father (Callum Keith Rennie), entomologist mother (Helena Bonham Carter) and beauty pageant obsessed sister (Niamh Wilson).
A dark shadow hangs over the homestead, the loss of T.S.’s twin Layton (Jakob Davies).
Out of the blue, T.S. receives a call revealing he has won the coveted Baird Award. He packs his case, leaves a farewell note and sets off for the Smithsonian. En route, the youngster encounters a menagerie of misfits including a drifter (Dominique Pinon) and a trucker (Julian Richings).
Light comedy and tragedy walk hand in hand, building to a crescendo of emotional outpouring.
Catlett is utterly adorable yet manages to sidestep the cloying cuteness. He anchors the picture beautifully with excellent support from Bonham Carter, Rennie and the hilarious Wilson.
Art direction and cinematography are typically sumptuous, especially in 3D, which Jeunet treats like a playground to indulge his delightfully childish French fancies.