JACK AND THE CUCKOO-CLOCK HEART (Jack et la mecanique du coeur) (2013)

Genre: CG Animation
Director: Mathias Malzieu, Stéphane Berla
Cast: Mathias Malzieu, Olivia Ruiz, Jean Rochefort, Rossy de Palma, Babet, Marie Vincent, Grand Corps Malade
Runtime: 1 hr 32 mins
Rating: PG
Released By: MVP and GV 
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/jacklefilm

Opening Day: 6 November 2014

Synopsis: Edinburgh, 1874. Jack is born on the coldest day in the history of the world, his heart frozen solid. Dr. Madeleine saves his life by inserting a cuckoo clock in place of his defective heart. The boy will survive, thanks to that magical contraption, but only if he observes three golden rules. First of all, he must never touch the hands of the clock. Secondly, he must control his anger. And last, but certainly not least, he must never, ever fall in love. The moment Jack sets eyes on street singer Miss Acacia, the hands of his clock-heart begin to race. Desperate to find her again, Jack launches himself — like a Don Quixote — into a romantic quest that will lead him from the lochs of Scotland, to the city of Paris and all the way to Andalusia...

Movie Review:

We are a spoilt bunch. When it comes to animation, we are fed with blockbusters from the likes of Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks. Yes, we often neglect the fact that there are other animated productions out there that deserve our attention. And when something like this French film comes along, we should sit up and discover what a gem like this has to offer.

The plot is something you’d expect from Tim Burton. The animated drama takes place in 19th century Edinburgh, where our titular character gets his heart was replaced with a clock when he was born. The situation dictates that he should avoid feeling strong emotions, for example, love. As you’d expect, Jack just cannot keep his feelings under wraps.

We love the details put into the storytelling.  Jack was born with a frozen heart. In order to save him, a cuckoo clock heart was substituted, complete with a clock face and pop out bird.The girl he falls in love with is a lovely singer with severe nearsightedness who spouts lace like thorns when frightened. After an unfortunate incident, Jack has to make a perilous journey through Edinburgh and Paris to Andalusia, with the danger of her (love the pun here) breaking his heart.

We are glad to report that this is one of the titles that are vying for the Best Animated Feature at next year’s Academy Awards. It is in the competition with bigwigs like The Lego Movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Rio2, The Book of Life and Big Hero 6. Will it stand a chance to be even nominated? While we think chances are slim, it’d make us extremely happy if it was given some recognition in that sense.

The movie is based on a rock concept album by French band Dionysos, and songs that do not necessarily fill in the narrative gaps drive the plot along effectively. The soundtrack goes back and forth between generic rock and peppy, poppy ballads, and is a joy to listen to (mostly because we are bombarded with increasingly soulless music in this part of the world). The music is music is fitting for the eccentric film, and you will want to hunt down the playlist on YouTube after walking out the theatre.

You may find the characters in this 94 minute film too operatic, and villains and obstacles appear in the story more for convenience than logic, there is a mystical force that has you rooting for the movie. The animation is rich with imagination and a pure pleasure to watch. The characters look like porcelain dolls, and the rest of the visuals are just as beautifully haunting.

There are some themes in the film which are more suitable for older kids - the horrific bullying and sad plot points are relevant even in the adult world, the statements involving love, sacrifice and mortality may fly past the heads of younger viewers. However, it is undeniable that every single viewer will be spellbound by the enchantingly intoxicating animation that is a feast for the eyes to all.

Movie Rating:

(This spellbinding film may not be from the animation bigwigs, but it sure displays a lot of heart)

Review by John Li

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