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Josephine and the Roach (2012)

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Surreal, offbeat short film about a cockroach who falls in love with the woman whose apartment he infests. They play beautiful duets on their violin and accordion, only to be interrupted by... See full summary »


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Title: Josephine and the Roach (2012)

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Cast overview:
Brain Sprayer
Josh Helmuth ...
Beach Boy
Beach Girl


Surreal, offbeat short film about a cockroach who falls in love with the woman whose apartment he infests. They play beautiful duets on their violin and accordion, only to be interrupted by Josephine's brutish exterminator husband, Moe. And so Roach devises a plan: he crawls into Moe's brain and gains control of his higher functions. Manipulating Moe like a three hundred pound sock puppet, Roach woos Josephine. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

20 May 2012 (USA)  »

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Director of Photography Damian Horan won the ASC Student Heritage Award for his work on "Josephine and the Roach." See more »

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Balances nicely between sentimental fantasy and weird oddity
5 March 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Josephine is a quiet woman who lives with her much gruffer and uncommunicative husband. She finds pleasure in playing her accordion in another room, while he watches the gogglebox for hours on end (ahem). Unbeknownst to her, she has a neighbor and admirer living just inside the walls of her apartment – a cockroach who also loves his music, and longs for the day when the love he knows they could share, will become a reality.

There isn't really a way to describe this short film without making it sound like it is a pretty weird affair; there is a reason for this – and it is because essentially it is a weird film. A story of the longing of a cockroach and the openness of the kindred spirit he seeks to connect with, it was never going to be the most straightforward thing and it was of interest to me how it would pitch it. Fortunately the film leads with fairy-tale level of darkness, so a type of weirdness that is not too dark, but at the same time doesn't try to Disneyfy everything to make it smoother and cuter. Instead what it has is charm.

The setting is a sort of 1950's world of fantasy and whimsy, but also of oppression and lack of love – again not in an overly heavy way, but just enough to work in broad strokes. The main characters and their feelings are also presented in this way – with an acceptance of the Tim Burton-esque weirdness of them, but at the same time a lovely charm and delicateness to them. The Roach of the title is a fixed puppet animated in stop-motion with limited features to play with for expression; the film overcomes this with good use of music and body language to convey his feelings. It goes an odd route, but in the end it is quite sentimental – which would usually be a problem for me. The reason this aspect worked here was that the film gets the balance just right; the sentimental core exists within this darker fantasy world, and I found that one balanced the other out well. Similarly the film managed to also make the Roach be both appealing, but also still as gross as cockroaches actually are in real life (where they play a lot fewer violins in my experience).

An oddity of a short for sure, and perhaps it runs a little long and could have been tighter, but regardless it is well judged to balance the odd and the sweet in all aspects, producing a charming little fantasy of a short film.

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