This is the time of year when snowglobes, these glass spheres that, with the twist of the hand, a flick of the wrist, create a scene showered with snow making a magical miniature world, are on sale. Director and French independent filmmaker Yannik Ruault, who also appears in the film as Handy, has chosen the name as the title of his latest film because it “… offers us a common ideal protected from the outside world”
A quote from Marie Curie saying “You cannot hope to build a better world without changing the individuals” opens the film that’s set in the house of English poet Philip Larkin in the town of Kingston upon Hull, and inspired by quantum physics. It is the story of a boy (Nathan Biscar) who is the result of a genetic experiment that goes by the name of snowglobes, the brainchild of Dr Sweetheart (Frédérique Hardy), that tries to modify the human genome and pacify humanity.
While the all-female team of scientists contemplate a Nobel prize, the 13 year old subject of their experiment lacks friends and even the most rudimentary of education, having no concept of either. In this sci-fi world, he may have had the gene for violence removed and have access to parallel universes but plays with toys aimed at much younger children such as a big rag doll called Poppy. It seems that empathy has gone with the destructive gene as this infantilised young man is seen listening to the reading of a rather grim horror tale with that impassivity of someone who’s been lobotomised.
The film also looks at the pervasive influence of AI (Artificial Intelligence) that comes in Snowglobes in the form of QUBIT (Laura Bastianini), a device devoid of human feeling yet whose voice was oddly nuanced and very human.
It is unclear why Hull was chosen as a location and the English elements such as the names Darling, Little Prince, Little Cheese, Professor Sweetheart and Handyman sat incongruously with there being a French cast.
There is an odd overlong scene towards the end of the film, in what is assumed to be the Hull East Riding Sports club, done in a fly on the wall style with no dialogue and only albeit rather pleasant accordion music as sound. It adds little to the narrative but does contribute to the film’s esoteric elements such as the references to wild dogs, cheese and Odysseus.
There is an air of Alice in Wonderland with a young woman strolling through the setting of an English garden accompanied by the ethereal, slightly suspenseful music from James Bell that matches the mood.
Snowglobes holds a fascinating concept at its heart but feels too obscure and disconnected in parts to fully engage the viewer.