A comparatively accessible narrative with animation that is beautiful in its ugliness
Having already watched Julia Potts' film The Event, I was better prepared to enter her unique style of film and animation but was grateful that there is at least comparatively more of a plot here that is accessible. Essentially young Oscar loses his elder brother Alex at sea and sets out to get him back, finding that he is in the belly of a whale with maybe only an hour to go before he is digested.
Okay, I'll be the first to acknowledge that the film still doesn't make for easy viewer, but a focus on the basic points will show you a coming of age story where a boy becomes more mature and responsible but in doing so sacrifices a more innocent side of himself. It is a story that will feel accessible and yet it is made darker and more engaging by the creative way it is presented. The world of the story is one of monsters, undersea adventures and whales – but it is also one of loss and danger; the feeling given to me by the film is one of an odd sense of fear even though this stage of my life is long behind me.
The animation is ugly and beautiful all at once; as with The Event it is grotesque but in a good way – not excessive or gory for the sake of it, but just quite matter-of-fact in the way that unpleasant points of life can be – they are out of the ordinary even if they are ugly. It is perhaps not easy to 'enjoy' because of this, but it still works and I found that the visuals were engaging and attractive (in their own way) and the narrative provided enough to draw me into the film in a more traditional fashion.
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