Animation technology seems to be advancing at exponential speed. Each Pixar film easily out-wows the last, and computer-generated releases are now par-for-the-course for kiddie fare. So its no small achievement that the French drama Renaissance, the feature debut from director Christian Volckman, has one of the most intriguing visual styles in years.
Volckman combines motion-capture elements, computer animation, and meticulous black-and-white art for a unique style and fitting medium for his hard-boiled futuristic detective story. The city is Paris. The year is 2054. And the plot centers on a kidnapped girl, a steely cop, and a sci-fi conspiracy involving medicine, government and commerce.
Normally, it might take viewers a few revelatory scenes to get involved in a multi-layered potboiler, but you don't really get that opportunity here--your brain is too busy adjusting to the aesthetic. Renaissance's stark black-and-white imagery is just that: black, and white. Grays and shadows don't seem to surface (if there even are any). What's left is a palette of extremes, rich black and shockingly bare white, making both a visual statement and a narrative one.
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