A sucker for animation films, I was really excited to catch this film last Thursday (all thanks to Hot91.3fm!) at Plaza Singapura’s Golden Village with a good friend of mine that shares this love with me.
As telling as the title of the film, the tale, set in Edinburgh Scotland back in 1874, revolves around the journey of this boy Jack that has a cuckoo-clock heart because he was born with a heart made out of ice. To save his own life, there are three rules that he has to abide by but as he grew up, he started to struggle with the third rule – of never falling in love, after a chance meeting with the lovely Miss Acacia.
With bullies making his life miserable and a sudden disappearance of the love of his life, how will his story pan out? And will he survive the delicate mechanics of his heart?
The entire journey was filled with highs and lows, and that made it exciting to watch. It was an emotional journey with many tough decisions to be made and plot twists placed to surprise the audience in clever places.
However, the action of it all burns very slowly and occasionally I found myself zoning out because absolutely nothing seemed to be progressing on screen. I might have appreciated it better if the pacing of it all was slightly tighter.
One thing I really enjoyed about this film will be the incorporation of other forms of art, with the most prominent being the use of music and songs. It kept the energy from falling sometimes and aided the impressive visuals in terms of building the mood as well as atmosphere for the situations presented. After a while, certain tunes are being associated with certain moods and as an audience member, catching it and knowing what to expect made me feel more connected with the film – as if I got let in on a secret.
A fun fact I discovered after my curiosity got the better of me: the entire film is actually a feature film based off the concept album of French rock band Dionysos. The illustrated novel of it was actually written by the band’s lead singer Mathias Malzieu and all music were originally composed by the entire band. I thought that is pretty impressive and it explained why the songs were done so well.
Another thing I really liked about this animation film, was of course, the choice of design. It was entirely done in a surrealistic style – train-swallowing moon, talking heads as well as a stage that can be folded into a luggage. This film really pulled me into its crazy world and invited me to open my mind and imagine with the characters as the tale goes by. Anything goes in this film and with a reality so magically full of all sorts of possibilities, it was fun to experience and constantly be surprised by what might happen next.
But it was not all crazy fun and without meaning.
With a nicely wrapped ending that leaves you with questions about life, death, choices and sacrifices, Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart managed to balance the beauty of madness as well as emotions. This quality really makes the film worth watching and I am so glad I got the chance to experience it in a cinema.