Every Tuesday, Chris Robinson digests and dissects (relatively) new indie animation short films.
Look, I get exhausted with the plethora of dark, depressing animation at times too, but so be it. Animators and art in general doesn’t owe us a damn thing. It’s not mandated to cheer us up or provide an escape hatch or paint the world as it supposedly should be. Art can be a negotiation, a navigation tool designed to help the artist (and ideally, the audience) sort through some theme, issue, truth – no matter how uncomfortable or painful.
Calvin Antoine Blandin’s La Chair de ma Chère is one such work that’s clearly trying to sort through some painful shit: in this case a child losing a parent (to suicide, it seems in this case). This haunting psychological thriller looks at loss through the eyes of a child. Unable to process his mother’s death – and not receiving much support from his negligent, likely emotionally stunned father - the boy squeezes himself into a reality where she still safely resides.
Blandin’s use of anthropomorphic characters along with the stiff, almost Lego-like environment mirrors the confused and innocent perspective of a damaged suffering child who is just not mentally and emotionally equipped to deal with such a devastating event.
Guided by Blandin’s creeping, hesitant camera - that seems to observe through the distant, confused eyes of a ghost - we tentatively traverse vacant stairwells and corridors anxiously in search of a wholeness, a connection that will restore this domestic mausoleum back into a haven of love and comfort.
There are no easy answers to be found here (even the ending is somewhat ambiguous: has the boy “awakened” and returned to reality or did he follow his mother’s same fateful steps?), nor should there be; grief’s volume might quieten over time, but it never ever falls silent.