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  • 4 out of 5 stars
Photograph: Munro Films

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

This wordless homemade animation about a man stranded on a strange island is thoughtful and inventive

If you’re still wondering what exactly you achieved in lockdown, this isn’t going to help: this impressive, gently trippy, dialogue-free animation was made entirely in a home studio by Latvian first-time feature filmmaker Gints Zilbalodis. The images, the music, everything – it’s all him, as he tells the mysterious, slowly revealing story of a young man who lands with a parachute on an apparently deserted tropical island.

From there, it’s a quest, partly one for survival, although partly it feels like a spiritual journey, as a deathly giant black figure stalks our blank-faced hero as he encounters overwhelming beautiful and oppressive landscapes, a crowd of cats, elephants, a geyser and more. Sometimes he walks, sometimes he runs, sometimes he rides a motorbike, like a kid lost in a computer-game digi-scape. Our hero’s face is curiously blank – you can barely see his mouth and nose – which only stresses this tale as one of formative awakening.

The one-man-show production story behind Away might explain why its style of computer animation can feel simple at times (although it’s also an incredible advert for what can be achieved if you couple DIY digital animation technology with clear talent). It has a blocky, work-in-progress look to it, which grows on you as the film unfolds, helped by Zilbalodis’s woozy ambient electronic score. Away has the mild rush of a coming-of-age dream, the sort that lodges in your memory as symbolic and significant as you pass from one stage of life to the next.

In UK cinemas now.

Dave Calhoun
Written by
Dave Calhoun

Cast and crew

  • Director:Gints Zilbalodis
  • Screenwriter:Gints Zilbalodis
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