The Painting (2011, Jean-François Laguionie)

There is unfinished business in Le Tableau’s painted world come to life. Literally. The Allduns (characters that have been fully realised), Halfies (partially complete inhabitants) and Sketchies (crude, half-drawn doodles) all live together in their creator’s painting. It is an unfair world – the Allduns have interpreted their creator’s silence as carte blanche to run their home, which involves the subjugation and ostracizing of illustrations less fortunate than themselves.

This class and racial divide sees three intrepid adventurers leave the confines of their painting to meet their maker in the hope that they can persuade him to finish their world and end the inequality. Laguionie was surely channeling beloved French animation, The King and the Mockingbird, when he conceived the idea for his film.

The Painting is one of the most unique looking computer generated animations to come around in a long while. Most western animations have a fairly homogenous aesthetic, but The Painting uses the power of digital 3D to craft an impressionistic world that homages artists such Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Still images fail to capture what a beautiful thing to behold The Painting is when it’s in motion.

The idea of discrimination, class entitlement, god, where we come from, these concepts are perhaps delivered a little too bluntly on the nose, but for what is ostensibly a children’s film these are interesting existentialist ideas Laguionie is exploring.

The ending is slightly overcooked and the conflict resolution feels bitter sweet as the Halfies and Sketchies are only accepted once they are finally completed. It is also a shame the concept of jumping around different paintings was not further embellished (the creative opportunities are endless in this regard), but The Painting does a lot of good in its brief 76 minutes. (7)

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