Frame by animated frame, the French duo behind Phantom Boy turn our attention toward the sky. We take in the multicolored floors and windows of office buildings, and the famous monuments of New York City. This version of the great metropolis, however, is filtered through the lens of 1940s film noir, as much of the action takes place at night or in shadows. The hero is Leo, a cheerful boy with an enthusiasm for comic books and detective stories whose happy circumstances change when he's hospitalized with an illness. There in bed, nauseated from the drugs and losing his hair, Leo discovers he can separate his soul from his body. This sinuous phantom self can fly through walls and above the world. He meets a bumbling detective in the cafeteria who is wheelchair-bound with a broken leg. Confiding his secret power, Leo helps the officer in pursuit of The Broken Face, a criminal mastermind who has plunged the city into darkness. Phantom Boy's animators draw the villain's variegated visage like Matisse's portrait La Femme au chapeau: Parallelograms of chartreuse, aqua, and citrus collide, inner conflicts made visible across his face. The tone of each scene is painted with moody, cerebral shades, and the threat of death never leaves this resourceful yet vulnerable boy.
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