On Friday I went to see Renaissance (caution: Flash, noise) at the Picturehouse with Andrew and two of his other friends. I’d never heard of it before, but the trailer looked interesting.

Black and white – almost literally 2-bit colour – and entirely CGI, it has a unique visual style. Lots of swooping around 2054 Paris, lots of rain, lots of smoking.

It’s a mocapfest, each character portrayed by a credited motion capture artiste as well as a voice artiste. Made in France, there are at least two, er, localisations available – French and English (this may extend to more than just dialogue – some text was in English only, I think, and I can’t imagine yer frenchies would stand for that in a home-grown film).

The trouble is, of course, that it’s easy to get a disconnect between the physical and vocal portrayals. I do feel that some of the physical acting is a touch hammy. And some of the (English) vocals don’t work too well either, despite the names involved (Daniel Craig plays Bond the policeman, Jonathan Pryce the corporate supremo). Some of the lines are dud, but I can’t remember any specific examples; I very much suspect a lossy translation. (A few times I was reminded of poor cut scenes in video games, but not often.)

Like A Scanner Darkly, I wonder whether the film’s visual style disguises a pedestrian plot. I’m also certain that Pixar would have produced something technically better (in less time – it took six years to make), but then they’d have been able to throw more money at it.

Having said all that, I liked it; and it’s worth seeing if only for the visuals. Characters drive a Citroen-supplied concept design, and Paris 2054 is very well realised in its own special black and white way.

Avaragado’s rating: a bowl of prunes


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