Guillaume Laurant

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T.S. Spivet Review


Excellent

As he did in Amelie, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet tells a simple fable with witty visuals, colourful characters and a warm heart. It's an utterly winning story of tenacity that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like an outsider in their own family. Which is pretty much everyone. So even if it feels a bit light and goofy, it has a strong emotional kick.

On a sprawling Montana ranch, 10-year-old TS (Kyle Catlett) couldn't be much different from his twin brother Layton (Jakob Davis). While TS questions the laws of nature, Layton is a boyish cowboy like their dad (Callum Keith Rennie). And their teen sister Gracie (Niamh Wilson) and insect-obsessed mother (Helena Bonham Carter) are just as individualistic. So no one notices when TS enters his perpetual-motion machine into a competition and wins a top accolade from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. But the competition official (Judy Davis) hasn't a clue that TS is only 10, or that he has run away from home to hitchhike cross-country to accept his award.

Based on the Reif Larsen novel, the story has a whiff of the fantastical about it, only occasionally reflecting the real dangers the young and prodigious TS would face on his epic journey. But that's not the point: told through TS's limited perspective, this is a story about discovery. TS may think he's capable of anything a grown-up can do, but there are some very hard truths waiting both on the road and back home. And he's also about to learn that there might actually be some benefits to being a little boy.

Continue reading: T.S. Spivet Review

Micmacs [Micmacs A Tire-larigot] Review


Very Good
Back in Amelie mode, Jeunet creates a wonderfully entertaining romp about a group of outsiders and manages to slip in an extremely subtle political jab amid the wacky slapstick and almost obsessive attention to detail. It's a bit silly, but it's also great fun.

After being shot by an errant bullet, Bazil (Boon) becomes homeless. Taken in by the Micmacs, seven misfits living in a secret lair under a rubbish heap, he discovers that rival Parisian arms dealers manufactured the bullet that hit him and the landmine that killed his father when he was a child. As he plots his revenge, his new friends all want in on the plan, so they set about inventively using their salvage to get the company owners (Dussollier and Marie) to square off against each other.

Continue reading: Micmacs [Micmacs A Tire-larigot] Review

Amelie Review


Essential
After only a few films have I been left with an indelible sense of wonder and amazement. After watching the stunning and beautiful Amelie, I've been struck again. This is truly a touching, honest, emotional roller coaster ride, equipped with powerful but subtle scenes of unrequited love, comfortable loneliness, visual wonder, imaginary worlds, and phantom characters guarding the hearts and souls of their mental caretakers.

Amelie delivers the goods on all levels, with crafty storytelling, superb acting, and clever directing. The film follows the exploits of the young Amelie (Audrey Tautou), a shy, introverted girl with a dysfunctional past who lives alone in a small apartment in Paris. Amelie spends her days working at a local Parisian café, pines for the love of a strange boy who stalks the instant-photo booths of the Metro, and silently observes the lives of her neighbors.

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A Very Long Engagement Review


Good
Although there are likely better directors who could have been found to film Sebastien Japrisot's World War I-set novel A Very Long Engagement than Jean-Pierre Jeunet, of City of Lost Children fame and Alien: Resurrection infamy, there are many more who would have been worse - and if that sounds like a backhanded insult, it's not. The story of five French soldiers who are sentenced to death for self-inflicted wounds (done so that they could be evacuated from the front lines) and condemned to march out into the no man's land between the Germans' trenches and theirs, it's a tricky mix of war epic, black comedy, and heart-stirring romance that would have left many filmmakers flummoxed. And although Jeunet takes some serious missteps and doesn't know when to leave the jokes alone, he has mostly succeeded where many would have failed.

Although it starts off like a war film - opening in the muck and mire, as all good war films must - and gives us plenty of reason to understand why these soldiers shot themselves in the hand (a sort of purposeful self-stigmata), A Very Long Engagement is really about a woman trying to find her lost love. The woman, Mathilde, is played by Jeunet's muse, Audrey Tautou, and though she doesn't here have the near-angelic glow he gave her in Amelie, she's plenty captivating nonetheless. Mathilde fell in love with her childhood friend, Manech (Gaspard Ulliel), and we see their romance in flashback, all frolicking in their picturesque village, swooning episodes atop a lighthouse and innocent carnality. Then the war comes, and poor, fresh-faced Manech is sent off to the front, later to be one of the five hurled into no man's land by a callous military bureaucracy determined to make an example of them. After the war, Mathilde refuses to accept what seems obvious to everybody else, that Manech is dead, and she launches on a journey to dig up every last piece of information she can about the case and find out what happened to her one true love.

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Guillaume Laurant Movies

T.S. Spivet Movie Review

T.S. Spivet Movie Review

As he did in Amelie, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet tells a simple fable with witty...

Micmacs [Micmacs a Tire-larigot] Movie Review

Micmacs [Micmacs a Tire-larigot] Movie Review

Back in Amelie mode, Jeunet creates a wonderfully entertaining romp about a group of outsiders...

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Amelie Movie Review

Amelie Movie Review

After only a few films have I been left with an indelible sense of wonder...

A Very Long Engagement Movie Review

A Very Long Engagement Movie Review

Although there are likely better directors who could have been found to film Sebastien Japrisot's...

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