This whimsical animated french film about love is a delightful treat.

Jack is a boy who with a heart condition and mustn’t feel any emotion in excess, you see he has a cuckoo clock for a heart. Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart is a fanciful tale from creator Mathias Malzieu.

Malzieu’s Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart is a hopeless love story of a morose young fellow cursed with a faulty cuckoo heart. Not only that, this melancholic boy turned tormented teen falls in love for a girl with rose tendrils as hair who is visually impaired from crying tears of ice. The romance is doomed as his adopted mother Madeline informs him a single kiss could stop his ticking heart.

The poetic narrative twists and turns and Jack’s troubles are Shakespearean, full of misguided choices and fallacious offenses. Some would say the adventitious plot is careless and designless but I think that is where the artistry lies.

The animation is dark and Gothic, decidedly Burtonesque with a Henry Selick or Laika quality yet simultaneously original. While CGI, the animation has a unique marionette picture book characteristic.  The characters are fresh and inexplicably bewitchingly fantastic – from a a bespectacled feline with metallic whiskers, a man with a xylophonic spine, to an angelic woman (women?) with wings and two heads. We don’t actually know why this 19th century setting is so magical but it is imaginative enough to not care, especially when Jack lands at the carnival.

Unable to find the original French language but English subtitled version I was consigned to viewing the English dubbed version. While adequate I do wish I could have listened to the songs as they were written and the initially cast French actors. The music is lovely and moving and the English lyrics keep up.