In this odd little animated love story, you watch one young boy’s journey from Edinburgh to France all for perhaps one kiss.
Review (with Spoilers)
It is rare to find English language animated films not done by Disney or Dreamworks, or have their label on it for American distribution, so imagine finding a film which looks like a low budget Tim Burton film. One which, like most Disney movies, is a musical of sorts and has its own prominent director with Luc Besson (director of Lucy & The Family). But the question is: with this film barely having much buzz or news around it, does that mean it is bad or that simply it just doesn’t have a good marketing push?
Characters & Story
Poor little Jack (Mathias Malzieu) was abandoned by his mother on the day he was born and left with the rumored town witch Madeline (Marie Vincent/ Emily Loizeau). A woman incapable of having children of her own, but was given little Jack to be her son. Issue is, Jack was born on the coldest day ever known and the cold froze his little heart. So, being that Madeline is quite skilled in replacing body parts with things around the house, she decides to replace Jack’s heart with a cuckoo clock.
Something which leads to quite a bit of difficulty for Jack. If just because of the rules involved with having a cuckoo clock heart: 1. He can never touch the clock’s hands; 2. He must always watch his temper; and most of all, 3. He cannot fall in love. All of these issues Madeline kept Jack safe from for as long as she could, but on his 11th birthday she takes him into town, perhaps for the first time ever in his life, and naturally he falls in love at first sight.
Leading to the heart of our story which deals with Jack trying to live a normal life. One in which he deals with the issues that come with loving a woman like Miss Acacia (Olivia Ruiz). Issues which are distance, since she moves away; dealing with his own jealousy and Joe’s (Grand Corps Malade), who looks like a bootleg Robert Pattison; and a slew of other emotions which put a heavy load on Jack’s cuckoo clock heart. Leaving you to wonder, in the pursuit of love will Jack find bliss, misery, or perhaps the end of his mortality?
If you look at the basic premise of the story, a boy with a weak heart falling in love, you have a wonderful tale. One which has lots of cute moments between Jack and Miss Acacia, with a handful of songs, in the beginning, which really highlight their tale of love at first sight well. Then, on top of that, you have a slew of interesting characters like Madeline, and those who she has fixed with wooden legs, or a xylophone spine, which presents a whole other story you wish was explored. Yet, even without the information you seek, just the oddness of every character, and the animation which isn’t the most complex, and yet still is quite beautiful, the film is a treat for the eyes.
But what makes this movie a bit difficult to like, without pause, is the music and the dialog. Starting with the music, the band Dionysos recorded all the music for the movie and, to me, it has a David Bowie type vibe, and not in a good way. Think some of his music in Labyrinth to get the general feel of the music in the film. Which isn’t to say all the songs are bad, some in the beginning I liked, and Miss Acacia’s Spanish numbers were good, but for the most parts the songs I wanted to mute for lyric wise they weren’t interesting, and the voices in front of the music didn’t help much either.
Moving to the topic of dialog, what I want to convey is while the story is good, i.e. what happens throughout the movie, the dialog really isn’t. For, in my opinion, like the music, the more you watch the movie the more flaws and things to dislike you’ll find. Like when the story is set in Edinburgh things are for the most part are good, but with the travel to France, and the introduction of Melies (Jean Rochefort), the only saving grace is Miss Acacia. For with Melies, him talking about love, among other topics, and then, anything not featuring solely Miss Acacia and Jack just seems like people are talking for the sake of taking up time and not making any sense, or really adding to the story much.
Leading to my last issue: Joe. To me, Joe’s presence in the film is overkill and so unnecessary. In my opinion, it would have perhaps been better to cut Joe and just make Jack ostracized without Joe being the central bully. Much less have him come around at the most opportune time to reveal the rules of Jack’s heart to Acacia. After all, between Madeline’s patients, Melies, or Jack himself, there were many better ways to reveal the rules without the happenstance of Joe showing up on the most important day of Jack and Miss Acacia’s burgeoning relationship.
Overall: TV Viewing
I am on the border of saying to skip this due to the music, Joe’s character, and the dialog; however, I really do like the romantic story of Miss Acacia and Jack, as well as Jack’s relationship with Madeline, to the point I, with some hesitation, am going to label this TV Viewing. For while Jack’s relationships aren’t written to be so grand they will leave a precedent in your mind, his relationship with Miss Acacia is cute enough to deal with all the nonsense surrounding it.