Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rendez-vous: Jean-Francois Laguionie's animated gem, THE PAINTING

At first, the must-see piece of French animation THE PAINTING, from co-writer/director Jean-François Laguionie, seems like a terrific parable about racism, classism, prejudice and justice. In a painting which its artist has left unfinished, the characters -- those who are completely drawn and colored, those half-drawn and others barely sketched -- break into severely formed classes, with one ruling the other two. When a "finished" Romeo falls in love with an "unfinished" Juliet, all hell break loose. But then, ah, the movie goes after so much larger game and becomes its own creation myth.

The animation is old fashioned and at all times graceful and lovely, the story is exciting but sweet (kids should love it, particularly those with a budding interest in art), but adults will find it almost shockingly relevant in its themes and content: Who are we, where do we come from, who's really in charge and why? It's a brilliant concept that M. Leguionie and his crew have brought to witty, charming, even profound life. And, ah, the colors! This one is a don't miss -- and not only for lovers of animation. It screens today, March 3, at 1:15 at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center and Sunday, March 4, at 11 am at the IFC Center.

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