From the director of Jean-Pierre Jeunet (AMELIE) comes this bittersweet coming-of-age story about a ten-year-old prodigy, T.S Spivet, who has a passion for cartography and scientific inventions. Based on The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet (written by Reif Larsen), THE YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T.S. SPIVET revolves around young T.S and his not-so-normal family who lives on a ranch in Montana.
Meet the Spivets. T.S’s mother (Helena Bonham Carter) is obsessed with beetles; his father (Callum Keith Rennie) is a real cowboy at heart and soul; and his 14-year-old sister, Gracie (Niamh Wilson), dreams of stardom and becoming Miss America.
But behind this eccentric family, there is a deep secret that no-one speaks of. Due to an experiment that T.S did in the family’s barn years ago, T.S’s twin brother, Layton, died in a firearm accident.
Although confused at the time, T.S eventually understood the situation and took on the guilt in the following years of his childhood. As if Layton never existed, the tragic accident shrouded the house in silence and sorrow, distancing each family member apart as the years went on.
One day out of the ordinary, T.S receives a call from the Smithsonian museum telling him that he is the chosen recipient of the prestigious Baird prize for his invention of a perpetual motion machine. After years of neglect and ignorance, T.S knew his family wouldn’t care if he was gone, and as a result, he embarks on a spontaneous journey alone across United States to accept his award in Washington D.C.
From the stagnant countryside to the picturesque landscapes, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet whisks the audience off its feet on a whimsical journey that appears to be out of his usual boundaries. Awarded Best Cinematography at the 39th Cesar Awards, it is truly a well-deserved win for the team. Saturated in high-exposure colours that reflect T.S’s view of the world, Jeunet’s affection for the left-of-centre has created an incredibly visionary world that is filled with curiosity, new wonders and sometimes dangerous times.
But what appears to be an uplifting story on the foreground about a young boy who might be the next Albert Einstein, it is difficult to ignore the mournful story that overshadows in the background.
The Young and Prodigious T.S Spivet is ultimately a tragic story of loss, grief, guilt, forgiveness and belonging.
In the title role as T.S Spivet, Kyle Catlett blends childish innocence and adult intelligence with ease. From the young curious boy who enjoys being immersed in his experiments to the petrified boy who has become a manipulated product exposed to the blood-thirsty public, Catlett has the ability to draw out every emotion flawlessly. Using the power of silence, Jean-Pierre Jeunet directs all camera attention on Catlett which enables Catlett to shine in several intense scenes such as T.S’s speech and his reunion with his mother on live television.
While other characters didn’t get enough on-screen presence, Helena Bonham Carter still manages to surprise us with her versatility when it comes to film roles. Perfectly executing the American accent, she plays the role of an eccentric bug etymologist in her unique way whilst taking on elements of a caring mother who will do anything to protect her child.
Overall: If you’re a fan of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie, then you will no doubt enjoy The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet. In its own little world, the film’s quirkiness and saturated imagery will draw you in an almost hypnotic manner. Yet, we can’t help but feel shaken up by the film’s storytelling about a harsh incident that has had a profound emotional impact on T.S and other characters in the story. If you’re after a bittersweet, uplifting film on a Friday night, The Young and Prodigious T.S Spivet is an interesting candidate for your viewing.
THE YOUNG AND THE PRODIGIOUS T.S SPIVET is now out on Blu-Ray and DVD. You can view more info on Madman Entertainment’s site [here]