Model Behaviour

Film

Time Out says

‘Audiences love to see fingerprints on the plasticine,’ says Adam Elliot. ‘It reminds them that what they’re seeing is real and tangible.’ Indeed, Aardman’s success would seem to indicate that audiences have perfectly catholic tastes in animation styles – computers haven’t taken over – always provided the artistry is there.

In Elliot’s case, a good part of the art is in the writing. ‘Uncle’, ‘Cousin’ and ‘Brother’ are simple black-and-white character profiles, mementos of garden-variety eccentrics evoked with childlike observation. The broadly-caricatured models provide deadpan illustration for William McInnes’ laconic narration, in the way of a print cartoon (very ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’); their myriad ticks and afflictions are recorded as all part of life’s rich tapestry. Narrated by Geoffrey Rush, the Oscar-winning ‘Harvie Krumpet’ is Dickensian by comparison – a life encapsulated in 23 minutes (and in colour). A passive and simple-minded Polish emigré, Harvie has a pear-shaped head and an ostensibly pear-shaped life, but scores a small victory for self-expression, smoking cigarettes naked, waiting for a bus that will never arrive.

Russian emigré Sapegin’s puppet and clay animations offer more visual riches and erratic narrative. ‘One Day a Man Bought a House’, a love story across the man/rat divide and ‘The Salt Mill’, churning greed and docility, are engagingly spun fables that fail to persuade; ‘In a Corner of the World’ is a throwaway gag on Shakespearean oration and scoring chicks (or frogs, in this case); ‘Snails’ is cute going on kitsch. Co-produced with the National Film Board of Canada, the doll-animated ‘Aria’ is a class apart: an unspoken erotic fantasia set to and riffing on ‘Madame Butterfly’, it’s ecstatic, grotesque, plangent and out of reach.

Details

Release details

Rated:
PG
Duration:
72 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Adam Elliot, Pjotr Sapegin
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