STARRING: Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vittet, Joseph Lucien, Dominique Pinon, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Genevieve Brunet, Jean-Louis Trintignant

1995, 112 Minutes, Directed by: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet

city.jpg (17776 bytes)Description: Circus strongman One (Ron Perlman), who wanders the alleys and waterfront dives of a vivid but menacing fantasy city in a perpetually twilight world looking for his baby brother, snatched from him by a mysterious gang preying upon the children of the town. Rising from the harbor is an enigmatic castle where lives the evil scientist Krank (Daniel Emilfork), who has lost the ability to dream and robs the nocturnal visions of the children he kidnaps, but receives only mad nightmares from the lonely cherubs.

More surreal weirdness by the French creative team that gave us Delicatessen. If you had seen the aforementioned movie, then you'll more or less have an idea of what to expect from City of Lost Children. Or well, not really. There isn't much that'll prepare you for the general comic book weirdness of this movie. I suppose that having seen Brazil and some other Terry Gilliam flicks (such as Twelve Monkeys) would also help a little.

The plot concerns a mad scientist-type that cannot dream and thus "steals" dreams from small children. The small children are kidnapped for him by what could be described as a mixture between the long-coated figures in Dark City crossed with low-tech Borg-type baddies (like in Star Trek - First Contact). Along the way there are also a disembodied brain floating in a greenish tank, Siamese twins who seems to be telepathically linked, a circus strongman (played by Alien Resurrection's Ron Perlman) and a gang of small kids who also happen to be burglars.

See, I told you: there isn't much that can prepare you for City of Lost Children. General weirdness aside, the film's biggest asset is the beautiful to merely gawk at production designs. Think a 1940s noirish version of Blade Runner crossed with Brazil and you're getting there. But the film's look is all it's own, really. So is its plot and some dazzlingly inventive sequences involving a circus-trained flea are the movie's definitive highlights.

However, City of Lost Children to my mind lacks the macabre sense of black humor that permeated Delicatessen and comes off as slightly inferior to that film. Maybe the sputtering pacing of the film - sometimes the plot moves fast and sometimes it bogs down - also has something to do with it. Despite this, there is a lot going for City of Lost Children and if you're up to something "different" for change then it is definitely worth a rental.


Sci-Fi Movie Page Pick: Surreal French movie in the Brazil mould. Someone once remarked of this film that "everybody talks about it but no-one has actually seen it." Well, reverse the situation today and find a copy somewhere . . .


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