by Ben Diamond
I think the image I have provided says it all.
So many Houses of Animation – Aardman, Studio Ghibli, Pixar – boast some sort of otherworldly beauty. That is the pull of the animated film. A distinctive visual style. A mechanics that wouldn’t work with real-life physics. A colour palette that couldn’t have been captured by filming real life.
So. Charlie Kaufman is already fucking with the fabric of animation itself. He has chosen that most pliable and versatile of styles, and he has chosen it to represent…what, exactly? A man tenderly going down on a woman in a hotel room. I cannot remember such an unblinking portrayal of the act since Ben Stiller ventured south in Greenberg.
Maybe these moments are the truly beautiful moments.
I had to stop and pinch myself. Was I really watching stop-motion characters copulating on a hotel bed. At 11.30am. At the Barnet Everyman.
It brought to mind Philip Roth’s book Sabbath’s Theater – and the titular antihero, Mickey Sabbath, and his past run-ins with the law because of his lecherous, obscene Punch and Judy street theatre antics.
This one’s all about the horror slowly dawning on you. And then you realise it’s been there all along.
At first you think Michael Stone is wearing a nifty pair of wire-framed glasses. Then it dawns that he has a line running along the bottom of his forehead. A testament to the cranial pressure within. Everyone else has these fissures too.
Then you notice the strange tonal qualities of all of the voices of the people Michael Stone interacts with. Then you try to ignore it. Then you come to see its significance.
The reality is probably worse than the dream. And hundreds of other micro-realisations along the way too.
We all have ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs hanging on our doors to Hotel Subconscious.
Maid Kaufman is ignoring all such warnings.