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Memorable (Mémorable)

An ageing painter and his wife struggle increasingly to cope with the former’s advancing dementia in this short CG / puppet animation from Annecy

The techniques used in this remarkable short include both computer and puppet animation, with all the surfaces of both the puppets and the sets resembling that of a canvas painted with oils. It’s the perfect artistic form in which to express the story the film wishes to tell.

Louis is a painter suffering from dementia. Neither he nor his wife and model Michelle are coping well. He struggles to recognise different items of food by name at the dinner table – a bit of a problem when Michelle asks him to pass the pepper – and attempts to eat a banana without taking the skin off it first.

He jokes about degenerative mental diseases when being interviewed by a visiting health professional, but can’t recognise the mobile phone on the table in front of him. As his memory banishes the very concept of a mobile phone to beyond Louis’ mental grasp, the already disfigured object breaks up into little black droplets floating upwards before him.

Worse is to come: a system of post-it notes each containing a simple drawing attached to its appropriate object, such as a sun to indicate an anglepoise lamp, starts to break down. The notes fall from their designated objects creating a sea of incomprehensible imagery to wade through and for Michelle to tidy up on the floor. Louis is shocked to discover the bathroom occupied – his wife has to point out that the alien occupant causing her husband such distress is in fact only his reflection which he no longer recognises as such.

At one point in the proceedings, she’s had enough and sinks to locking him in his room so he can’t pester her. At another, she explains there are no fish in the fish tank because Louis failed to feed them.

Finally, he mistakes his wife for a hired carer. He comes on to her, but pulls back telling her, heartbreakingly, that his wife gets jealous and waltzes round the room with her instead. As they dance, she is reduced to an empty space parts of whose surface is defined by her husband’s sparse brushstrokes to which he adds a few more.

This is dangerous, emotionally charged and highly challenging material underscored with commendable humanity.

Memorable (Mémorable) played in Annecy where it picked up three awards – a jury distinction for powerful storytelling, a junior jury award for a short film and an audience award – making it a likely contender for this year’s Best Animated Short at the Oscars. Watch an extract below (French no subtitles):

By Jeremy Clarke - 19-06-2019

Jeremy Clarke has been writing about movies in various UK print publications since the late 1980s as well as online in recent years. He’s excited by movies which provoke audiences, upset convent...

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