(On Blu-Ray, August 2010) Renaissance has many faults, but at least it’s interesting to look at. Computer-animated in stark black-and-white from motion-captured actor performances, director Christian Volckman’s film still has no equals in terms of sheer looks: Directly inspired by the palette of noir films, Renaissance strikingly presents 2054 Paris as a maze of known monuments, fancy modern architecture and impossible vistas. (I’m particularly interested in knowing how the Seine has fallen down about a hundred meters) Alas, the story powering the visuals isn’t much to discuss: Not only does it rely on crime-thriller clichés, it concludes on a downbeat note that mocks much of its science-fiction credentials. The characters are generic and so is the dialogue: at times, there is no other choice than to focus on the visuals given the lack of interest of the story. Fortunately, there’s a lot to admire in the sights alone: a car chase leads us to a glass-bottomed Notre Dame plaza, a reflection ends up matching two faces perfectly, someone falls through a plate-glass window, a rainstorm suddenly looks so pretty… Given how the entire film is a gigantic visual experiment, it’s not particularly surprising or problematic if some of the staging and animation doesn’t quite work. What’s worse, though, is that Renaissance’s stark-contrast cinematography may end up producing a headache after only 90 minutes. It doesn’t help that even after seeing the story to the end, there isn’t much in the script to suggest such a radical visual approach: While I’m sure that it’s less costly to animate a future Paris than to try to re-create it in live-action, there is little in the story (except the film noir heritage) to suggest stark contrasts, black-and-while vision or any other kind of visual reality-bending. Still, there aren’t enough stylish adult animation experiments around, so it’s a shame that the film’s lack of box-office success and lacklustre reviews may work to discourage any such experiments in the future. Not even Renaissance’s clunky script and tiring cumulative impact can take away the sheer joy of seeing something fresh on-screen. The R1 Blu-Ray edition, sadly, features the film and nothing else: for such a visually different film, it would have been interesting to have even a cursory look behind the scenes.