Monday, 14 July 2014

REVIEW - THE YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T.S. SPIVET (JEAN-PIERRE JEUNET)


If the quality that makes whimsy so charming is its naivety, its innocence, then Jean-Pierre Jeunet is not and never was its greatest proponent in cinema. The intelligence, the self-awareness, the freshness of his previous work is what has resulted in his deserved success. But in The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, those elements, supplanted by nothing but that whimsy, are of no great value, and Jeunet finds himself relying on a style that he has little mastery of. The anal-retentiveness of that style hampers many of the novel ideas he has engendered, as mannered methods of filmmaking upset what could have been a considerably more entertaining, stimulating film, even if they are less liberally-applied than one might come to expect from Jeunet, though this does mean that T.S. Spivet lacks the snappy pace of some of his other works. What one can certainly expect from this director, however, is an appreciation for artistic beauty. Denis Sanacore has composed a lovely score, while the striking visuals are enlivened further by the use of stereoscopic effects. The dazzling 3D here is largely only used as a gimmick, but in the context of such a dainty, precious picture, it joins a variety of other gimmicks in serving as narrative devices, and as an alternative mode of storytelling being employed to enhance the experience. Acting ranges from frustratingly inert - lead Kyle Catlett is obviously out of his depth as T.S., failing to portray the character as anything beyond an irritant - to hideously broad - Judy Davis outdoes even her worst work to date in this regard.