Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

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After his discovery of the perpetual motion machine, little T.S. Spivet receives a phone call informing him that he is the winner of the prestigious Baird prize, and is invited to a reception in his honour where he will be expected to give a speech.

T.S. packs a suitcase and sets out on a cross-country journey from Montana to Washington by hitching a ride on a freight train.
But there’s a slight issue:
His family don’t know he’s gone.
The organisers of the Baird prize do not know his real age.
And T.S. has no idea the lessons he is about to learn along the way..

 

 "The Selected works of T.S.Spivet" © Photo: Jan Thijs 2012

 

 

Cast

Kyle Catlett – T.S. Spivet

Helena Bonham Carter – Dr. Clair

Callum Keith Rennie – Father

Judy Davis – G.H. Jibsen

Niamh Wilson – Gracie

Jakob Davies – Layton

 

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Extremely Similar And Incredibly Familiar

This movie reminded me so much of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; a film which was at cinemas back in 2011. Like that one, The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet is an endearing and artistic piece of cinema which carries an emotional undertone throughout. What had me smiling with familiarity as I compared one to the other, was just how much T.S. was like Oskar. The kid narrates his journey through life with a realistic and descriptive point of view; actions as simple as getting from one side of the house to the other are dissected as thought bubbles and diagrams pop up on the screen, containing details so in-depth that the child even analyses the number of steps it takes to get there.
At one point T.S. begins packing his suitcase and as he does so, shouts out items of importance which he needs for his journey.
He calls out, “twelve carrot sticks” and holds his hands up to the camera to symbolise the number twelve using his fingers. Right there I was reminded of Oskar in Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close when he does exactly the same thing whilst counting the number of times he’s done something.

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Whether it was the imaginative use of pop-up pictures and writing, or the child’s intelligent way of narrating his everyday life, this movie is very similar to the other one from 2011. But although the same style may have been used, The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet remained vastly different and more endearing than Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

 

 

Crying

At one point during this movie I reached up to my eyes and realised they were wet. I was crying.
The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet tapped into my emotional psyche big time – just sitting there in the cinema, my eyes were streaming because of what was happening in front of me. T.S.’s story is sad in itself – the concept of the little chap leaving home with his suitcase without telling anyone – but running alongside this are various elements of sadness. For example, a short conversation (brewed from his imagination) between T.S. and the family dog Tapioca ends with Tapioca sadly muttering, “everybody seems to leave these days”. Another sees Dr. Clair (Bonham Carter) sorrowfully looking out of the kitchen window at T.S. as he sits at one end of a see-saw, trying to ride it by himself.
The boy helplessly tries to balance the seats, but fails.

As commonplace as these scenarios sound, they – and many others – blended together nicely to create an emotional undercurrent which upset as well as entertained me. This movie didn’t just tug at my heart, it reached inside and exposed feelings familiarity, sadness, appreciation.

 

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Scenic

Filming locations used in this movie were beautiful.
The Spivet family ranch is based in Montana, and bloody lovely it is too. Their house is classic red wood style, laced with white windows and ledges. I fell in love with it immediately – I’ve always been a fan of America’s southern states and the architecture (I was practically spunking all the way through Twister), and this movie wasn’t shy in exposing the beauty. Because as well as this bright red wooden house, you get an eyeful of various areas such as Wyoming, Chicago and Nebraska.

The movie was reportedly filmed in Montréal, Québec but displays some gorgeous, sumptuous graphics whilst following T.S. on his journey to Washington. Emerald green rivers and lakes filter through golden mountains, fields of long, bright green grass blow in the wind and the weather patterns are admirable; at one point Dr. Clair and Gracie are taking the laundry off the washing line due to an impending storm. You can see the storm in the distance as it makes its way in; the clouds in the background have turned deep grey with gold lightening bolts striking the ground.
It’s bloody beautiful.

The graphics in this movie are to be applauded.

 

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Kyle Catlett

The young boy who plays T.S. Spivet is adorable. He is a petite, blond thing who up against adults during most of the movie, makes for a loveable critter.
He may be new on the Hollywood scene, but he certainly knows how to carry a film. He is a prime example of one of those child actors who knows just how to “bring it”. There really isn’t much I can fault him on – he delivered everything he should have in perfect style, and with an adorable personality which radiated from the screen.
A certain scene sees T.S. end up hanging from the handrail of a bridge, subsequently injuring himself quite badly around the ribcage. From that moment on whenever a person touches him or wraps him in a hug, T.S. lets out an almighty scream. I loved this – one of those ‘even when he’s in pain he’s adorable’ reactions only a child can produce.

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What sent Spivet’s cuteness off the scale and actually made me want to adopt him was the relationship between him and science expert G.H. Jibsen.
Upon meeting the old woman, T.S. is weary about her enthusiasm for his intelligence despite the opportunities which face him. G.H. Jibsen acts like a surrogate mother for the boy, mentoring (and grooming) him every step of the way before a television talk show appearance in which he must explain to the viewing public how he created the perpetual motion machine. The motherly instinct of the woman and the boy’s way in accepting it was yet another element which stole my heart.

Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet did good here with securing Kyle as the lead role; the kid is adorable and going by the type of movie this is, it is important to have a child who matches the story.

 

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DILF

Allow me to shatter the doughy atmosphere for a second by announcing that Callum Keith Rennie is hot. And I would SO go there. The gentleman plays T.S.’s father – a highly reserved cowboy “born a hundred years too late” who may be absent for much of the movie, but makes up for it towards the end.
The man is a bloody hottie. I don’t mean in a Ryan Reynolds or Jason Statham type way, this guy is hot in a different sense. He’s kind of old but fuck me, there’s something about him that totally bastes my turkey.

Proper DILF.

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What Went Wrong

This movie has been mainly released in 3D, and this is what I viewed it in. But I can honestly say the effects were awful.
This movie has a great habit of using pop-up diagrams and other images which if viewed in 2D, would be enjoyable. But in 3D, the displays on screen became blurry as they moved out towards us audience. I found myself having to slide the 3D specs down my nose to see if the blurry stuff would disappear – which it didn’t. And in the end, I found myself going almost cross-eyed as I struggled to focus on the images being shown on screen.

My pet hate of cinema these days is the whole 3D concept.
I remember back in the 90’s / 00’s whenever a movie was released in this style, objects and people literally seemed to jump out of the screen at the audience. Nowadays, 3D in cinema terms means, “the screen is slightly crisper” – because this is all 3D seems to do – make the clarity of the picture a bit better. And in return, nothing actually ‘exits’ the screen to delight the audience. It’s all a bloody rip-off.

So if you can get to see this movie in 2D I would highly recommend doing so, because the 3D is ultimately a head-fuck and possibly even dangerous for your eyes.

 

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The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet is a precious film. It carries a few messages which are displayed as it goes along, along with some deep heartfelt emotion.
I won’t lie – I exited the cinema with a genuine feeling of contentment, I was smiling as I left the building and walked along the street – the feature had affected me in a way I didn’t think it would which left me satisfied and glad that I’d made the effort to see it.

When the actual movie had finished and the credits rolled, me and the handful of other audience members stayed sitting – watching the captivating display of crew and actors names bounce across the screen in a wonderfully youthful fashion.
The movie had finished, and yet I was still absorbing the wonderful atmosphere it created.

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this movie to anyone.
It is worth paying for, it is worth renting, it is worth purchasing.
What a fantastic way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

 

8/10

 

 

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This entry was posted on June 15, 2014 by .
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