The 19th Chicago European Union Film Festival 2016 – PHANTOM BOY (2015)
written by: Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol
produced by: Jacques-Rémy Girerd
directed by: Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol
runtime: 84 min.
release date: September 12, 2015 (TIFF)
The creative writers/directors of the Oscar-nominated animated feature “A Cat in Paris”, Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol are back with another feature-length film, “Phantom Boy”, using the same distinctive and vibant style to tell another adventure. Acquired by American distributor GKIDS (the folks who gave us “The Boy & the World” and “Song of the Sea”), this French-language film is yet another fun and clever story that combines a pop-art, hand-drawn style with Squigglevision, which can be enjoyed by all-ages, especially those American kids who feel like their growing out of the typical animation fare offered in the U.S.
Felicioli and Gagnol switch the setting from Paris to New York City (a French-speaking Big Apple, that is) this time around, while staying within the crime genre yet adding a supernatural element to the story. The city is threatened by a boisterous kingpin with a deformed cubist face (resembling a twisted Picasso) who is threatened to leak a deadly electronic virus throughout the city unless the mayor hands over a billion dollars. In the city hospital, Alex, a resilient cop confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, befriends Leo, a terminally ill young boy who has the unexplained ability to take on an astral form and fly around the city without being seen. Alex learns of the precocious boy’s secret and the two wind up assisting Alex’s plucky journalist friend, Mary, as they try and bring this kingpin to justice.
There are evident noir conventions at play in “Phantom Boy”, especially in relation to the Dick Tracy-type villain and the fact that there is a criminal threat to the city, but it’s all quite light-hearted and in the same vein as “A Cat in Paris”. The unique and intriguing aspect of the film is the magical out-of-body adventures Leo has as the titular character and the limitations such power has. Between his stealth powers and Alex’s resourcefulness (not to mention the aide of a cell phone), the two become quite an impressive crime-fighting duo. Featuring the voice work of Audrey Tautou, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Edouard Baer, Jackie Berroyer, Gaspard Gagnol and Noa Bernaoui-Savreux.
“Phantom Boy” has been working the festival circuit, appearing at TIFF last fall and now it is the Closing Night film for the Chicago European Union Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center tonight at 6:30pm.