The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet: Movie Review
Cast: Kyle Catlett, Helena Bonham Carter, Callum Keith Rennie
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Mixing visual whimsy with the road trip genre, acclaimed director Jeunet concocts something nostalgic and yet timeless in The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet.
Newcomer Catlett is Spivet, the very definition of precociousness. Living on a ranch with his family in Montana, this prodigy finds his life changed when he's called by the Smithsonian Museum who ask to induct him because of an invention that he created.
Without telling his parents, Spivet packs a bag and sets out on a journey for the accolade - but also to claim some kind of personal redemption for events past.
The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet has a beautiful eye for nostalgic detail and moments of a childhood in America's mid-west, mixed in with perfect flights of fantasy and imbued with a sweetly tragic undercurrent.
Catlett is given a hard job for the final third of the film but manages the right mix of innocence and tragedy when called upon to deliver the Smithsonian speech. He also captures a vein of ribald childish cheekiness when needed such as with an encounter with a policeman where he corrects the cop for misuse of language, without realising his attitude could cause more trouble.
But The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet is more concerned with the visuals with Jeunet bringing his famed eye for beautiful vistas and also quirky visual tics. With maps, pop-up books and illustrations floating around the screen (and likely to look the full monty in 3D), there's plenty of visual treats to tickle the eyeballs. Jeunet regular Dominique Pinon adds to his repertoire of eccentric characters, completing the director's requirements.
All in all, The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet is a child-like road trip of visual whimsy in many ways; but when it comes down to it, it all stands on the shoulders of the Macauley Culkin-esque young Catlett who more than adequately rises to the occasion to give this the emotional pull and the gravitas that it needs.