T.S. Spivet


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"The film becomes a road trip, avoiding many of the usual booby traps, although not all."

It goes against the grain to whinge about a surfeit of imagination. In 3-D, too.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet can never be described as a hack director. He made Delicatessen with Marc Caro and Amelie without him. He made the last of the Alien movies, starring Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder before she raided that shop in Hollywood, and said no to Harry Potter. He's hit or miss, but never conventional.

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T.S. Spivet feels like an animated film for real people. Based on a novel by Reif Larsen, it relies too much on the audio narration and enjoys experimenting with visual tricks.

The story is simple-made-complex. T.S. lives on a ranch in Montana with his big-brained mom and big-brawned pop. He has an older sister who dreams of beauty pageants and a twin brother who likes to play with guns. He's 10 years old and has a mind like Einstein's must-do list.

After inventing a perpetual motion machine he wins the prestigious Baird Prize at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. They want him to come over to receive the award and give a speech to an assembly of renowned scientists, having no idea he's a boy.

The film becomes a road trip as T.S. hitches his way to DC, avoiding many of the usual booby traps, although not all. Your old friend the grizzled freight train hobo is on hand with homespun advice and the dodgy truck driver is into girls luckily.

Kyle Catlett, as T.S, is as vulnerable as a sweet pea and carries every mummy's warm blessing for the journey. Helena Bonham Carter, as mom, is her sensible, eccentric self - always a joy - and Judy Davis at the Smithsonian is a hoot.

It looks terrific and if Jeunet had been a little less hands everywhere it might have been a contender for The Heart Melters Silver Salver at the Teardrome feelgood ceremony this fall.

Reviewed on: 11 Jun 2014
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A young scientist secretly leaves his family's ranch to travel across the country to receive a prize.
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Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Writer: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Reif Larsen, Guillaume Laurant

Starring: Kyle Catlett, Helena Bonham Carter, Robert Maillet, Judy Davis, Callum Keith Rennie, Julian Richings, Niamh Wilson, Dominique Pinon, Jakob Davies, Rebecca Amzallag, Amber Goldfarb, Catherine Lemieux, Dylan Kingwell, Lisa Bronwyn Moore, Dawn Ford

Year: 2013

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: France, Canada


SSFF 2013

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