The young and prodigious T. S. Spivet
By the French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (known for Delicatessen and Amélie), The Young and Prodigious T. S. Spivet is a gentle and sensitive film, coherent with Jeunet's production and based on Rief Larsen's novel (The selected works of T. S.
By the French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (known for Delicatessen and Amélie), The Young and Prodigious T. S. Spivet is a gentle and sensitive film, coherent with Jeunet’s production and based on Rief Larsen‘s novel (The selected works of T. S. Spivet).
It’s the story of T. S (Kyle Catlett), an extraordinary child who is just 10 years old and has an incredible brain. He is so clever to conceive an invention that puts an end to the human quest for perpetual motion and makes him win a prestigious award. To receive it, he abandons his remote ranch in Montana and embarks on a solitary trip to Washington D.C.
This trip is the occasion in which the fairy-tale dimension of the film unfolds: T. S. meets two peculiar helpers (a lorry driver and “Two clouds”, the great Dominique Pinon), who tell him stories and take care of him, and an antagonist, the policeman who chases him.
This fairy-tale flavour is extended to elements which normally have nothing in common with it. Thanks to T. S.’s inner voice, we are able to perceive science just as he does: a realm of wonder, fantasy and imagination, in which everything is possible.
Like ghosts, fantasies and calculations take shape, as they did in the book: it is Jeunet’s language, summed up to the privileged eye of a child.
On the other hand, it is true that T. S. is sometimes too objective and cynical. Therefore, the audience may find it hard to empathize with him throughout the film, especially in the second half of the film.
Of course, his trip is a metaphor for his growth, but it is not obvious, and it is not its only meaning. It is also an escape from his family, unable to cope with the loss of T. S.’s twin brother Layton. His parents are frozen in their pain, and the topic has been banished from conversation. That’s why the taboo of death and loss comes out in public, and gives depht and substance to an unusual plot.
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Writers: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Guillaume Laurant
Cast: Kyle Catlett, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, Callum Keith Rennie, Jakob Davies, Dominique Pinon, Julian Richings