(Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol)
Phantom Boy is the Chicago European Union Film Festival's Closing Night film on Thursday, March 31. For additional ticketing information, please refer to the Gene Siskel Film Center's website here.
Thoughtful as Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol’s Phantom Boy may be, wherein a cancer-stricken child aids a wheelchair-bound cop in an animated supernatural riff on Rear Window, it’s a film that struggles with its identity. Partly a gritty noir involving NYC terrorist threats and an enigmatic homicidal villain, partly a film about the Strength of the Human Spirit, the picture’s propensity for simplified emotions and jarring transitions from violence to humor make Phantom Boy particularly frustrating.
That’s not to suggest that the film is without its beguiling passages. Most notable are scenes that course throughout the metropolis, gorgeously animated sequences of apparition figures moving throughout a luminous cityscape. Yet the film’s two components – its cop narrative in contrast to a boy’s supernatural capacities – never does jibe and the picture suffers for it. Whereas Pixar has developed a distinct penchant for composing digestible bits of entertainments for children and adults, Phantom Boy rests in a nebulous state, where its working components accumulate somewhere in between, never sure of itself or what it wants to be.