Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a selfish bastard. How else can you explain the French director's half decade absence from cinema?
Thankfully, the man who helmed "Amelie," "A Very Long Engagement," "The City of Lost Children" and "Delicatessen," is back with a new film told as only he can.
"Micmacs" (known as"Micmacs a tire-larigot" in French) is a fantastical, breathtaking jaunt about Bazil (marvelously rubber-faced Dany Boon), the son of a bomb disposal expert who died on a job in Morocco. Years later, after he survives being struck by a stray bullet which remains lodged in his head, though it costs him his job and home, Bazil falls in with a motley crew which helps him exact revenge on the two weapons manufacturers who made the landmine that took his father and the bullet which almost killed him. His adoptive family includes a contortionist (Julie Ferrier), a pixyish math whiz named Calculette (Marie-Julie Baup), the bombastic human cannonball (Dominique Pinon), and Remington, a man who only speaks in clichéd turns of phrase (Omar Sy).
Filled with magical realism and a sense of wonder, Jeunet has created a savvy and insightful satire about the world's arms trade that's surprisingly funny, warm and charming. Using a palette that moves from somber sepia tones to jewel shades that share a kinship with painter Wayne Thiebaud, the film is as beautiful as it is visually witty, like when a blast sends a pinup calendar flashing through the months like a flip book, leaving the Petty Girl nude or a jauntily animated sequences recounting famous deaths by lame accidents.
An intricate and well-plotted caper in a heightened, slightly magical, alternate reality, "Micmacs" has shades that may remind some American audiences of both "Pushing Daisies" and "Ocean's 11," not exactly shabby company to be keeping. Rich and clever, it's yet another feather in Jeunet's cinematic cap.