Once again, it takes a movie made in another country, and another language, to remind us of the eccentric delights that are still possible in the realm of conventional hand-drawn animation. Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci adapt Jacques Tardi’s graphic novel about an orphaned girl named April (Marion Cotillard) in an alternate-reality 1940s Paris where great inventors have all disappeared before they could bring the coal-fired Victorian era into modernity. The result is a vividly-realized steampunk-y landscape of massive cable-cars and steam-powered automobiles, mixed with weird but engaging details like a mansion that can walk away to defend itself from attack, and ominous, seemingly sentient storm clouds. The narrative may be overly-complicated—the reveal of the principal antagonists is both somewhat obvious in hindsight, and completely ridiculous—but it gets a boost from a resourceful heroine who is also a talented scientist, and animation that brings both the characters and the world to quirky life. It makes one pine for an alternate reality where a different kind of technology was a lot less prevalent.
Director: Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci
Producer: Marc Jousset and Franck Ekinci
Cast: Angela Galuppo, Tony Hale, Tod Fennell, Tony Robinow, Paul Giamatti, Mark Camacho, Macha Grenon, J.K. Simmons and Susan Sarandon