Born on the coldest day of the year, Jack’s (Orlando Seale) heart was frozen solid. Doctor Madeleine (Barbara Scaff) saves him by replacing his heart with a cuckoo-clock, but it comes with a warning. Jack must never touch the hands, he must control his anger, and he must never fall in love. Kept hidden away, Jack is finally allowed into town on his tenth birthday, where he meets Miss Acaia (Samantha Barks), a street singer. He quickly falls for her, but she leaves town, and Jack is determined to find her again, at any cost.
Based on a concept album, and illustrated novel by Mathias Malzieu, who co-directs with Stéphane Berla, Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart plays out like a rock opera, and a Tim Burton film, with a slightly lighter tone. The visual design is reminiscent of many Burton films, which isn’t a problem, as viewers are treated to a very similar experience. The songs featured in the film are very well done, which comes as no surprise when co-director Mathias Malzieu, happens to be the singer of Dionysos, whose album was the basis for the film.
The animation is incredibly well done, and there’s no shortage of strange things to admire. A train works like an accordion, and Jack eventually arrives at a carnival, filled with fairies, two-headed girls, and living objects. There’s a real magic to the story, and Jack’s search for a love he can’t have is touching, and inspiring.