I am glad, in a way, that the new French animated film Renaissance has been dubbed for its US release, and that is because this obviates me from commenting on the dialogue. If I had to take that into account, I could not recommend this film to any living person, nor any dead person, nor any person who has ever in their life experienced a dramatic art. The dialogue is atrocious, and it is delivered badly by a very game team of miscast actors, including Daniel Craig, Ian Holm and Jonathan Pryce.

That does leave the little matter of the script, which in translation or not is pretty flawed. It begins by telling a nearly-incoherent story of a lab researcher for a major health company in 2054 going missing, with a badass rule-bending cop sent to find her. Which wouldn't be bad in and of itself, but on its way to telling this story, the film fails at one of the most important tasks of a science fiction narrative: it doesn't explain how the world works. It shows us the world, all right, and by the end it's possible to figure a lot of things out. But there is no sense of society, or government, or personal technology: at the end of the film, I still didn't have much of an idea of what the nefarious Avalon Company that drives the plot actually does.

The good news is that this doesn't matter in the tiniest, most insignificant degree. What matters is that this might well be the most distinctive-looking film in the 110 year history of motion pictures.

Start with digital video. Paint over it, using the same software developed for Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Use black, white, and nothing else whatsoever. Taa-daa, you have Renaissance.

It's indefensible really, to like a film solely because it is pretty, and unlike those two Richard Linklater films, I'm not at all certain that Renaissance needed to be told in animation: it's basically a rip-off of Blade Runner, a film of tremendous visual invention in live action. So it's undisciplined, and disciplined filmmaking is a hobbyhorse of mine. So on the merits I can't call this a good movie at all.

Then I look at this:

and this:

and I altogether stop caring about "discipline" or "quality," and instead try to determine if it's medically possible for me to have director Christian Volckman's baby. Those aren't even particularly good images. They're what I could find in five minutes on the internet. If I could, I would hang Renaissance on my wall. It is pop art at its finest, and it moves, and there are hundreds and hundreds of frames of it. It's not possible to describe it; rather, it's pointless to do so, in the way that describing any image is a cold replacement for seeing that image.

A couple of caveats: sometimes, textured items look, well, "textured": lips or jackets or fingerprints, any number of things that haven't been painted over so much as filtered in Photoshop or the like. It's distracting and ungorgeous. Secondly, some of the character design is much more grotesque than interesting.

Some day, I will watch this film in the original French without subtitles, and thereby have only a vague sense of what is being said and I will be able to look at it and be amazed. It is not a movie in any proper sense of the word. Instead, it is an art show that takes 105 minutes to view. I could go on a little tear about how it evokes the great and noble history of film noir how the ending references this, that and the other thing, but I don't really want to. It's so fucking pretty. That's all I want from it, and all I'm prepared to say.

My brain says 6/10, but my inner fanboy says 10/10, and he gets far more enjoyment out of life than I do.

I really do hope the style is never repeated, though. It would be like having the most mind-blowing sex ever with a prostitute: all you can think about is the sex, but if anyone else were able to recreate it, there's no getting around the fact that you just fucked a whore.