The world of T.S. Spivet (Kyle Catlett) is certainly inviting. It’s a splendiferous realm of rare bugs, perpetual motion machines and preternaturally gifted preteens, painted in a hyper-saturated palette of green grass, gold wheatfields and cerulean skies. Save for the dead twin brother, who wouldn’t want to live there? Jean-Pierre Jeunet delves into dense fantasia in much the same way as he did in the likes of Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children and your-aunt’s-favourite-‘foreign-film’, Amélie. Implied inadvertent fratricide aside, there’s little of the darkness of the first two films (co-directed with ex-collabortor, Mark Caro). But there’s nothing wrong with a (really) sunny day, is there?
Not really, but I couldn’t but find The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet a little too slight, too twee, too self-satisfied to really succeed. It’s lovely in its opening scenes, as it establishes the titular Spivet’s family (who inhabit a Montana ranch and want to be a cowboy, entomologist and beauty queen, respectively), but somewhat loses its way when the boy catches a train to the Smithsonian Institute to collect the Baird prize; Jeunet doesn’t really have a grasp on the character of rural America nor modern talk shows. At least it looks pretty.