(In theaters, May 2004) This film is nothing less than a tour-de-force, managing to tell a complete story with only a minimal use of dialogue. What fills the blanks is the fantastic visual imagination on display throughout the entire film, from off-beat character design (ugly, if you ask me, but certainly unusual) to elaborate Rube-Goldberg mechanisms. While we’re accustomed to scripts as being mere supports for spoken words, this one is a stripped-down thing of wonder, featuring a whimsical plot with strange characters and quirky developments… and almost no lines dialogue. Special mention must be made of Benoit Charest’s fantastic soundtrack, which mixes genres and ends up with a finger-snapping Oscar-nominated number. The film was conceived in Montreal with support from over the world, and its uniquely mid-Atlantic feel, halfway between French and American stereotypes, clearly shows it. Funny, weird, original and a success from start to finish. Copious sight-gags (like the grotesquely fat “statue of liberty”) will reward multiple viewings. Writer/Director Sylvain Chomet shows considerable promise.