Movie Review

The Young and Prodigious T.S.Spivet – Movie Review

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The Young and Prodigious T.S.Spivet (3D) – Review by Frank

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writers: Jean-Pierre Jeunet (screenplay), Reif Larsen (novel),
Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Robert Maillet, Callum Keith Rennie |

Jeunet has received widespread public acclaim for his previous features of Amelie and Delicatessen. In the Young and Prodigious T.S Spivet, based on the novel The Works of T.S.Spivet by Reif Larsen he creates a prodigy who is but ten years old. He lives with his mismatched parents in the beauty of Montana where the landscape is on a vast scale. It is a dysfunctional family as Dad is a stereotypical man of the land, a cowboy born too late, Mum is an entomologist who spends her time piercing insects with pins and placing them on trays. He has a non identical twin brother, who got the brawn to his brains and died in a shooting incident, and a sister whose goal is to become Miss America. T.S.Spivet thinks he has created a perpetual motion machine. He needs to get to Washington to the Smithsonian to reveal his invention to the world. But he lives in the back of beyond in Montana. Washington D.C.is a long way off. T.S. Spivet must make the journey but how. The use of 3D for all these opening sequences accentuates the grandeur of the Montana scenery and even the differences that exist between the family members.

Jeunet handles beautifully the journey by railroad and then highway (by hitch-hiking) from Montana to Washington. He has an eye for magnificent shots- the couplings between the various trucks that make up an industrial train as it moves across the vast landscape, the industrial buildings which from part of the backdrop and are as big as cathedrals or even bigger. They accentuate the smallness of T.S.Spivet. When he reaches the Smithsonian after his adventurous journey, Jeunet has a series of scenes which address the incongruity of a ten year old boy, unaccompanied, engaging with the great and the good of Washington DC society. The incongruities bring a small smile to your face but somehow by this time the magic of the first part of the movie is no more. Maybe it is because T.S.Spivet is moving in the more familiar world of acclaim and success… Montana was more unfamiliar.

Jeunet looks at the American way of doing things benignly and while T.S. Spivet is, inevitably as a child prodigy, a bit of a brat, the society in which he is brought up and in which he lives is uncompromisingly 100% America. The movie is a sort of paean of praise to that society, to the American dream, to the belief that everything is possible. It is also ephemeral, there is not much to contemplate once it has been seen.

 

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