The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet is a 2013 Franco-Canadian[3] adventure drama film directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and co-written with Guillaume Laurant, an adaptation of the 2010 book The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet written by Reif Larsen.[4] The film stars Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis, Callum Keith Rennie, and Kyle Catlett.[5]

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJean-Pierre Jeunet
Produced by
  • Frédéric Brillion
  • Gilles Legrand
Screenplay by
  • Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • Guillaume Laurant
Based onThe Selected Works of T. S. Spivet
by Reif Larsen
Music byDenis Sanacore
CinematographyThomas Hardmeier
Edited byHervé Schneid
Distributed byGaumont
Release date
  • 28 September 2013 (2013-09-28) (DSSIFF)
  • 16 October 2013 (2013-10-16) (France)
  • 31 July 2015 (2015-07-31) (US)
Running time
105 minutes[1]
  • France
  • Canada
Box office$9.5 million[2]


T.S. Spivet (Kyle Catlett) is a 10-year-old prodigy with a passion for cartography and scientific inventions. He lives on a ranch in Montana with his mother (Helena Bonham Carter) who is obsessed with the morphology of beetles; his father (Callum Keith Rennie), a cowboy born a hundred years too late; and his 14-year-old sister (Niamh Wilson) who dreams of becoming Miss America. His twin brother Layton (Jakob Davies) died in an accident involving a firearm in the family's barn, which no one ever speaks of. T.S. was with him, measuring the scale of the gunshots for an experiment, and he doesn't understand what happened. One day, T.S. receives an unexpected call from the Smithsonian Institution, telling him that he is the winner of the very prestigious Baird prize for his invention of a perpetual motion machine and that he is invited to a reception in his honor where he is expected to give a speech. Without telling anyone, he sets out on a freight train across the United States to reach Washington, D.C.

During his journey, he meets a hobo in the trainyards of the midwest, outruns or outwits a number of railroad security guards, and then is picked up hitchhiking by an 18-wheeler trucker who lets him off at the Smithsonian in Washington. He ultimately gives his speech for the Baird prize to a room full of well-dressed guests, and discusses the death of his brother. After the speech is over, T.S's mother and father arrive down in D.C and interrupt him while he is on a talk show. His mother tells T.S it wasn't his fault, to which the TV interviewer pesters them with questions up until T.S's father punches him and they leave.



After writing and directing Micmacs, Jeunet preferred his next film to be in someone else's world, to be based on an existing story. Before Larsen's book was published, he had already shortlisted several of his favourite directors to make a film based on the book, and was subsequently contacted by Jeunet.[6][7] Filming was done from June to October 2012, mainly in Quebec and Alberta, Canada, with some scenes in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. It was director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's first 3D film.[7]


Rights for the 2015 US release were sold to Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein had requested cuts to the film which the director refused to make. Jeunet claims that the release was hobbled by Weinstein as a resuly, and the film did not do as well as it should have.[8]


The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 79%, based on 43 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Young And Prodigious T.S. Spivet brings its bestselling source material beautifully to life, offering a blend of visual thrills and poignant pathos that help tie the film together despite an occasional surfeit of quirk."[9] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 53 out of 100, based on 11 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[10]


At the 39th César Awards the film won the award for Best Cinematography.[11]

Home media

The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 4 June 2014 in France,[12] and on 3 November 2015 in the United States.


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