Would you still appreciate the miracle of being alive, after seeing $9.99 ? Personally, I would not.
Made up of Israeli writer Etgar Keret's several short stories, $9.99 is a black comedy satirizing social manners and discontents of today's urban nation. Within a high density of morbid humour, the purpose of black comedy is somewhat achieved. Israeli animation director Tatia Rosenthal is trying to provoke discomfort and serious thought about the social matters that makes life unbearable, in the audience. From couple years earlier another animation of her "A Buck's Worth" seems to be the nucleus of $9.99.
Besides the production values, technical values are at a very low-level. Of course, it's not fair to expect a flawless claymation like they do in Hollywood, but still the characters look and move very distractive. Audio mix is not satisfying either. Plus it's very silent and the music is very boring, while the social lampoon is in charge of the mood. Alongside with the unpleasant characters, these are the main reasons why a lot of people hated this film.
4 households of one apartment block form the main characters and the plot. The first one is a broken family, a father and his two adult sons leaving apart from the mother of their home. Dave, the youngest kid is the leading character in the story. He is a very likable kid; honest but dupe, helpful and skillful but unemployed. His brother works as a bailiff; smart, self-confident, happy-go-lucky. The father of the family is self-disciplined, strict, introverted, snooty; throughout the story Dave's father always ignores his son and always extremely ironic incidents happen to him, thus he becomes depressed and turns out to be pessimistic. While the story comes to a resolution, he no longer has any eagerness to do a thing; he loses his aim of life. That's when Dave comes to his rescue, offering him fresh ideas of finding the hidden meaning of life.
Opening with a dark view of life, that view becomes brighter and softer even though the story develops with sad and ironic incidents happening to regular people. Rather than some intelligent black humour, there's nothing interesting or to be of liking. I watched this film with my friends and their friends altogether on a boring Saturday afternoon, and everyone hated it, so we turned it off in the middle; since no one really cared whatever is going to happen to those unpleasant and uninteresting people. Then after a while, I watched it on my own forcing myself to see how the conclusion is going to be. I've seen much more awful animations. This was somewhat tolerable.
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