Twitter Plot Summary: Paris in the 2050s is a Big Brother state. Meanwhile, there’s a plot involving a kidnapped scientist for Daniel Craig to investigate.
Five Point Summary:
1. So is he a superhuman or something?
2. Top to bottom chase sequence. Nice.
3. Some guys in invisible suits.
4. The plot thickens…
5. That’s a bit of a downer…
It is the year 2054 and Paris is under the thumb of Big Brother. It is also inexplicably in black and white and constantly raining, if Renaissance is anything to go by. Much of the surveilance is undertaken by mega conglomerate Avalon, a health and beauty company that are constantly advertising about their rejuvenating skin and health products – so essentially a massive version of Oil of Olay then. Afer a scientist is kidnapped it’s up to jaded police officer Karas (Craig) to find her. Of course, it’s not as simple as that and soon he’s travelling down a road that uncovers a far bigger conspiracy at its core.
The animation is excellent, doing what good animation should. That is, making you forget the fact it’s animated. This is in spite of the stark black and white, neo-noir approach that’s been taken with it, which is remarkable in itself. It’s also most definitely not aimed at a younger audience – nudity and swearing are occasional occurrences. It’s also a meaty, adult story despite the endgame being about achieving immortality. That’s a distinctly sci-fi trope but in this instance it fits in nicely with the adult theme – the fear of death, the fear of aging. Science fiction works at its best when it questions our modern world and puts a unique futuristic spin on that, and Renaissance achieves this with considerable gusto.
The voice actors on hand, too, give a sterling performance. Daniel Craig is a proto-Bond, albeit one that is slightly more weary with the world in which he lives. This is of course an era where liberty has been taken away, so it’s understandable for him to have an air of melancholia. He’s one to do the right thing, however, and so despite everything thrown at him he is perhaps the best person to uncover the mystery that lies ahead.
Whilst some aspects of the narrative could have been explained in some more detail, I loved the attention to detail in terms of the world itself – the future technology is believable and helps considerably in setting up the world the story takes place in, making a wry comment on surveillance culture in the process. The invisible suits worn by government agent types is reminiscent of those worn in Philip K Dick’s A Scanner Darkly, however in this case the subtext is again with reference to surveillance and the watching of unknowing targets.
It’s a brave experiment that appears to have failed – from a budget of €14 million, it only took approximately $2 million at the box office. That appears to be more an issue with the original French language version rather than the English translation – as we’re well aware, cinema goers are adverse to watching anything that may require subtitles. Would it have done better if the English version had been released into cinemas? Perhaps, but even despite its poor box office showing there’s no excuse not to give it a try now. Intelligent and thought provoking, we need more films like this, be they animated or otherwise.