Anxious Body

By Yoriko Mizushiri | Animation
Body parts and objects meet with shapes and lines to form something new...

Omeleto is partnering with Unifrance as part of their annual MyFrenchFilmFestival event, which showcases the formidable range of contemporary French cinema. From dark dramas to absurdist comedy to gritty social realism to thoughtful reverie, all the films are distinguished by the excellence of quality and a commitment to cinema as a vital, visionary art form, nourished by a supportive, innovative industry.

Directed and animated by Yoriko Mizushiri, this short animation -- which was a featured short at Cannes -- begins with coolly contemplative images of tape being pulled from a dispenser. This is the central preoccupation of the film's slender, delicate storyline, returned to again and again, though to say the film is narrative is not quite accurate. Instead, it's a reverie, dreamlike and hazy in how it explores the body as a center point for fascination, fixation and even obsession.

Over a putty-gray background, the images -- rendered in a pared-down, minimal line-drawing style -- emphasize the minutiae of existence, from the tapping of a pen to the way a finger rubs the grid of a tennis racket. A subtle electronic score by New York musician Yuka Honda adds a disquieting dimension, with washes of sound interrupted by spikes of noise and squiggles of synthesizer. But it keeps going back to the pulling of tape, and then touching it, before gently mutating to another detail or sensation focused on the physical feeling of skin encountering another object.

A snake winds its way through the sequences, a disquieting motif that seems to portend growing anxiety and danger. And indeed, as the film progresses, touching loses its exploratory, curious quality and verges into an almost dissociative state. When a hangnail appears on a finger and inches ever closer to the tape, we begin to squirm, knowing what the intention is and anticipating the sharp, stinging sensation that will happen. "Anxious Body" as a film is remarkably focused on the small details of the physical form, rendering its sensations with delicacy. But it also knows that even the smallest piece of body -- just some skin hanging off a finger -- can speak loudly when pulled.

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