Saturday, July 04, 2009

City of Lost Children (La cité des enfants perdus)

This movie is weird. I mean bizarrely weird.

City of Lost Children is a French fantasy film that fits into the "steampunk" sub-genre. What's "steampunk" you may ask? Well the film takes characteristics of a more advanced society, but more closely resembles a late-Victorian and Edwardian era in terms of architecture and intricate designs. If that escapes you, just think H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. If that doesn't get you - maybe you've played the game Bioshock.

City of Lost ChildrenThe world created in this film is entirely unique and unlike anything I had ever seen before. The story loosely revolves around a city bathed in darkness which (for those who pay attention to such things in this city) is experiencing a wave of child kidnappings. Just a note, the city is not bathed in darkness like the film Dark City has its city bathed in darkness, this is just a decision by the filmmakers to set the mood. This sets the film in a completely fantasy world, as it can't possibly be set at the turn of the century, and would not likely take place anytime in the future.

The film stars Ron Perlman as One, Daniel Emilfork as Krank, Judith Vittet as Miette, Dominique Pinon as "le scaphandrier" and The Clones, Jean-Claude Dreyfus as Marcello, Geneviève Brunet and Odile Mallet as "The Octopus," and Jean-Louis Trintignant as the voice of Irvin.

The story take a turn when the character, One (Perlman) witnesses his "father" being stabbed and soon afterward has his younger "brother" Denrée stolen away from him. His search eventually has him cross paths with a bank of children theves. The young ringleader of this group is Miette (Vittet) wants One to beat it, but One is persistent. He finds that these young theseve are forced to steal by their Orphanage, run by the Octopus (Geneviève Brunet and Odile Mallet), Siamese twins. Due to One's strength, he's perfect for their next job they have planned for the children to steal.

City of Lost ChildrenA series of events spur on One and Miette to uncover a greater mystery and conspiracy that threatens all the youth of their city. On an old oil rig out in the sea, lives Krank (Emilfork) a man unable to dream. He kidnaps children in the hopes that their innocence will allow him to understand dreams and have some himself. He lives on this island with a woman, multiple clones, and an intelligent brain that is housed in a tank.

This film is really like a surreal dream (or nightmare). It is one of the most visually interesting films I've ever seen in my entire life. The character interaction is wonderful, Perlman does a fantastic job and Vittet does a wonderful job in the role of Miette, I can't say I've seen anything else she's been in but she's one of the better child actors out there. I am fully aware that this is film will not be everyone's cup of tea - but for me the attention to detail sells it. Astounding, absolutely astounding.

**** out of *****

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