The City of Lost Children

on December 15, 1995 by BOXOFFICE Staff
   Created by the same team who made "Delicatessen," the much-anticipated "The City of Lost Children" failed to meet the expectations generated by that 1992 film. Although its surrealistic, "Delicatessen"-like art direction and set decoration are stunning, the film--which was Cannes' opening-night picture--falters under flabby direction and a weak script suffering from too many ingredients and not enough cooking.
   The story begins on a mist-shrouded island. There the despotic Krank (Daniel Emilfork) ages prematurely because he lacks one vital function: the capacity to dream. With his crooked band of assistants, Krank kidnaps children from the harbor town and steals their happy dreams through a thought-transfer device that recalls the brain-swapping sequences in the "Frankenstein" movies. Meanwhile, a monosyllabic circus performer (Ron Perlman) searches desperately for his little brother, aided by a precocious young girl (an impressive Judith Vittet) as they try to escape the clutches of wicked Siamese twins.
   Despite moments of humor and occasional flashes of brilliance, "The City of Lost Children" fails to be as disturbing or provocative as it might have been with a few more rewrites. Ultimately, it's about as lost as the children held captive on the island. Starring Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork and Judith Vittet. Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro. Written by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro and Gilles Adrien. Produced by Claudie Ossard. A Sony Classics release. Fantasy. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 113 min
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