In 2054, Paris is a labyrinth where all movement is monitored and recorded. Casting a shadow over everything is the city's largest company, Avalon, which insinuates itself into every aspect of contemporary life to sell its primary export -- youth and beauty. In this world of stark contrasts and rigid laws the populace is kept in line and accounted for.
Directed by: Christian Volckman
. Starring: Daniel Craig
, Romola Garai
, Ian Holm
, Kevork Malikyan
, Catherine McCormack
, Jonathan Pryce
, Robert Dauney
, Crystal Shepherd-Cross
, Isabelle Van Waes
, Max Hayter
, Marco Lorenzini
, Jerome Causse
, Clémentine Baert
. Music by: Nicholas Dodd
Good grief, what are the Europeans at here? Renaissance is a sort of sprawling Chinatown mystery packed with elements of noir crossed with Ridley Scott's Blade Runner in the sense the makers have tried to be clever or just different to everyone else and have set it in the future, thus adding a science fiction ingredient. I read that the film was jointly produced between Britain, France and Luxembourg but I'm sure there's more to that than the mere fact the cast is British and the setting is Paris -' I'm not sure where Luxembourg figure into the equation though.
I guess the reason this drew so much attention and turned so many heads was because of its animation. The animation isn't used for the sake of being post-modern, it is used on an artistic merit in order to recreate Paris, but Paris circa the year 2054. To shoot it in live action and include all the necessary special effects in order to create a world so far into the future would require money that the French, British and respectively, the Luxembourgian film industries do not have. The film is Richard Linklater's 2001 documentary-come-film Waking Life crossed with the more brutal, more out and out fictitious Sin City with its uncanny animation and attention to character movement, whilst recreating a world unbeknownst to us but seemingly normal amongst all the decay to its inhabitants.
However, the film itself is something a little less spectacular when you peel away the visuals and the overall look. Is this the French partly trying to take back the label of 'Film Noir'? What made Film Noir famous throughout the classical era of Hollywood is exactly the sort of content Renaissance use for this picture. Like its source of inspiration, Renaissance does deliver on the basic level of noir; it is gloomy and relatively downbeat with questions raised and moral boundaries sort of crossed by people we should expect better from. The hero, or anti-hero as he sort of becomes, is Barthélémy Karas (Craig); a Parisian policeman hunting for Ilona Tasuiev (Garai) who has been kidnapped whilst working on something pretty big for shady company 'Avalon'. Along with this, Paul Dellenbach's goons led by Dellenbach (Pryce) himself have their own agenda for her.
Everything is in Renaissance, from the black and white with flashes of colour right down to the moody detective that works on both sides of the law and who comes complete with a chequered past. Does it all work? Yes, it does but only to a degree. The focus here is on Craig's character as he gets more and more involved in a shady and shifty world whilst trying to uncover the truth. He balances macho and the scenes in which he has to stick a gun in someone's face with the calmer, more involving scenes of detective work and thinking things through. But I wish I could say it was more interesting than it was on the whole.
Paris as a location feels raised distinctly higher than usual for some reason. There is a lot of glass in the city. There are massive glass floors in which pedestrians are able to see what's happening on the roads beneath them; there is a large inclusion of mirrors and windows with the windows in Dellenbach's office and what's outside them feeling somewhat emphasised, whether this is the production company showing off what they can do or whether it means something more is entirely subjective. Hell, even the cells designed to hold people are transparent. I think the inclusion of all this is some sort of reference to Karas and his should-be ability to 'see through' what's around him, ie; the organisation itself and the clues he finds.
You get a pleasant sort of feeling when you watch Renaissance, like when you saw Chinatown for the first time. You will want to figure it all out but some scenes might elude you first time round. Eventually, Karas will be acting on his own impulses and he'll have a trusty female ally as they blur the moral boundaries. Paris as a location is full of Brits, Yanks and Russians with an alarming amount of French people not on show -' maybe they're all the pedestrians we don't get to hear speak as car chases or whatever unfold around them.
Additionally to the meek comment the film may be making about Paris' multicultural status, the statement on surveillance is even hollower. Everyone can see practically anything in the city with CCTV cameras posted everywhere, even one of the more dramatic scenes in a location too obscure for technology is seen by Dellenbach whilst in the comfort of his own office. Renaissance isn't a bad film but what it has in quality of animation and meekly involving plot it lacks in overall interest and feeling. It's an impressive exercise in combining animation with narrative but it should've been better overall.
Review by johnnyboyz from the Internet Movie Database.