A delightful but slightly overlong cautionary tale
Bretislav Pojar's 'A Drop Too Much' is a nicely executed cautionary tale about drink driving which won the award for Best Puppet Film at the Cannes Film Festival. The story of a motorcyclist who stops off for a soft drink on the way to see his girlfriend but unfortunately stumbles upon a wedding and ends up on stronger stuff, 'A Drop Too Much' telegraphs its inevitable outcome from the start. This matters little, however, as the appeal is in the glorious puppet animation that tells the story rather than any element of narrative surprise. With haunting fixed expressions, the puppets make their emotions clear to the viewer through movement and its so effective that after the film is over you could swear their faces changed. The drunken revelers at the wedding provide some comedy relief despite the sense of imminent tragedy. The minute the motorcyclist gets back on his bike, however, the film takes a very grim turn. Speeding through the dark night, we alternate between the motorcyclist's hazy point of view and images of his reckless driving. The veil of darkness is used to wonderful effect, adding a sinister element of the unknown as we struggle to see all of the motorcyclist's actions. Needless to say, the joyride ends in tragedy.
I first saw 'A Drop Too Much' when I was very young and it haunted me for years. I never thought I'd see it again but, thanks to the internet, I managed to track it down. The first time I watched it I spent much of the time looking away from the screen in dreaded anticipation. Even at that early age I knew what was coming. Watching it for the second time decades down the line, I found the second half of the film to be a little overlong by about a couple of minutes, to the point where I was almost going "Oh, just crash and die already!" When the climax arrived however, it is as powerfully realised as I remembered.
Some may find 'A Drop Too Much' a little too preachy but this is a churlish criticism since that is the entire point of the short. When taking on a subject like drink driving, the preaching is entirely justified. Pojar has crafted a memorable minor gem that deserves to be seen by a wider audience.
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