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Jean-Pierre Jeunet for 'Selected Works of T.S. Spivet' & 'Red Leaves'

by
June 29, 2011
Source: Variety

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

His charming film Amelie has become a French favorite among cinephiles, but now director Jean-Pierre Jeunet is lining up two more projects, including one that will mark his first English-language film since the 1997 sci-fi sequel Alien Resurrection. Variety reports that film will be an adaptation of Reif Larsen's novel The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, and it's expected to be his very next project. Meanwhile, Jeunet has also picked up the rights to Thomas H. Cook's novel Red Leaves. One fits right in Jeunet's wheelhouse, while one is a bit more gritty, but you can find more specific details on each film below.

Here's the wholly interesting and fantastical synopsis for The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet:

When twelve-year-old genius cartographer T.S. Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, life as normal—if you consider mapping family dinner table conversation normal—is interrupted and a wild cross-country adventure begins, taking T.S. from his family ranch just north of Divide, Montana, to the museum’s hallowed halls.

T.S. sets out alone, leaving before dawn with a plan to hop a freight train and hobo east. Once aboard, his adventures step into high gear and he meticulously maps, charts, and illustrates his exploits, documenting mythical wormholes in the Midwest, the urban phenomenon of "rims," and the pleasures of McDonald’s, among other things. We come to see the world through T.S.'s eyes and in his thorough investigation of the outside world he also reveals himself.

As he travels away from the ranch and his family we learn how the journey also brings him closer to home. A secret family history found within his luggage tells the story of T.S.'s ancestors and their long-ago passage west, offering profound insight into the family he left behind and his role within it. As T.S. reads he discovers the sometimes shadowy boundary between fact and fiction and realizes that, for all his analytical rigor, the world around him is a mystery.

All that he has learned is tested when he arrives at the capital to claim his prize and is welcomed into science’s inner circle. For all its shine, fame seems more highly valued than ideas in this new world and friends are hard to find.

Knowing the tone and style of Amelie and his most recent film Micmacs, it's not hard to envision this story in Jeunet's hands, especially since he's working with Amelie co-writer Guillaume Laurant again. Meanwhile, Red Leaves is a little more hard-hitting and dramatic as it follows a family crumbling as their 15-year old son is accused of kidnapping an 8-year old girl. As if the kidnapping wasn't hard enough to deal with,the family has to tend with a father whose failed plans led from moderate wealth to near penury, an alcoholic older brother who's never amounted to much, a younger sister fatally stricken with a brain tumor and a mother driven to suicide. Pretty depressing, and almost the exact opposite of the charming, imaginative stories we've come to expect from Jeunet. Both projects sound fantastic in their own way though, especially in Jeunet's hands.

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  • ff
    My favorite filmmaker hands down.
  • Sneexy
    I love his work and it helps he seems so pretension-free.

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