This is a review posted originally by me on letterboxd. Written on the 4th October 2012. Enjoy!
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The City of Lost Children’s surrealism is both charming and disturbing. A steampunk fairytale from directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, the film is a plethora of peculiar characters and settings. On an oil rig in the middle of an ocean reside an assortment of failed “experiments” belonging to a missing genius. These include a diminutive woman named Miss Bismuth, a brain in a tank nicknamed Uncle Irvin, six clones (played by the brilliant Dominique Pinon), an assemblage of cyclopses with acute hearing, and finally the humanoid Krank, whose despair at not being able to dream is the catalyst for much of the action.
Add to this the former Russian sailor One (whose little brother is kidnapped by Krank), and his companion, sparky street kid Miette, and there are already enough personalities to fill hours of plot. This is the film’s main criticism – that it is overly crowded with plot lines that don’t always connect. With so many ways to view the film, and with such rich symbolism, it is easy to come away from the experience feeling overwhelmed and irritated.
Disjointed it may be, yet at the same time it offers some surprisingly uncomplicated allegories. Its story of an ageing man desiring escape from reality in the form of dreams is a universal narrative; and for such a densely populated film, the friendship between One and Miette is refreshingly simple. The City Of Lost Children is definitely not for everyone, but if you are willing to open your mind to it, then it can offer endless entertainment.
FINAL VERDICT: ★★★★