The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet is a fascinating story. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the film follows the adventures of a charming and ingenious young inventor: 10-year-old T.S. Spivet.
T.S. narrates his own story in a pictorial manner allowing the viewer to peer inside his consciousness. The movie is an adaptation of the The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, written by Reif Larsen. One is usually skeptical about how effective a film can be in capturing the inner world of a character. Yet the first person narrative in this movie is so captivating that one willingly accepts the subjective reality of young T.S .
It’s not hard to get involved in the story. The opening sequence, aided by a nostalgic vibe and creative graphics, acts as a unique prelude. It inspires a sense of boyishness and adventure, setting the tone and atmosphere of the entire film. While a newcomer to cinema, American child actor Kyle Catlett delivers a natural performance in what is undoubtedly the challenging task of portraying his quirky character. There is rarely a scene in which he is not present. Despite his young age, Kyle is fluent in both Russian and Chinese, which may explain why he was chosen to portray the ingenious T.S.
Undoubtedly one of the most impressive features of the film is its beautiful Mise-en-scène. With its beautifully shot landscapes, it’s a stereotypical, yet iconic, representation of an idealist life in rural America. Wide-angle shots capture, in a spectacular manner, the beauty of American nature (even if most of the filming took place in Canada). The production design of the film can be described as a mixture between an idealized American life as seen in the paintings of Norman Rockwell, and the surrealistic extravagant surroundings one typically associates with French fantasy films.
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet is a film that focuses on real issues (grief, parenting and guilt), and the trial and tribulations of childhood. It’s a seemingly innocent, even childish, tale that converts itself into a prime example of a real art-film. As is typical for this type of film, the sense of time is frequently distorted and, at times, some viewers may have trouble understanding the meaning behind some of the scenes. But they really don’t have to because The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet is a film that can be enjoyed on many different levels: serious or playful, full of meaning or meaningless – yet at all-times entertaining.
Intended audience: While adolescents are most likely to enjoy Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s movie, adults that are young at heart will enjoy immersing themselves in the world of this childhood fantasy, so immaculately portrayed in The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet.
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet (2013) Trailer