Many people under-appreciated animation, especially the mainstream audience. When talking about animation, it’s not about who this film is for. But, the animation is more than art, more than entertainment, and more than a movie for kids. Speaking of animation, people behind these films have more effort than films in general. However, I often find animation is nothing more than animation, no less, but nothing. One of them is Japanese animation and you can mention directors such as Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, or Satoshi Kon.
After a few years, animation has always been underestimated by the film industries. But, there is a good thing as well why animation has never been appreciated. In terms of quality, execution, and effort, Pixar is one of the studios still last today. Disney too, when talking about their filmography, was still one of the best. Sadly, Disney is no longer in the game. When talking about animation, we always talk about imagination, fantasy, and so on. Jean-François Laguionie’s “The Painting” seeks an answer to us. The animation isn’t just animation but it’s what makes art as a reflection.
This is a tale of wonder, love, revelation, class struggle, and others. It’s about the relationship between Ramo (Michael Sinterniklaas) and Claire (Eden Riegel). Ramo is a Toupin and Claire is a Halfie. Their forbidden romance, like a Shakespearean, isn’t a new thing. We can talk about how “The Painting” is much about class caste, etc. Instead of we get the rich and the poor, mostly, the movie represents uniquely. There is the Toupins (the Painting) as the elite class. And there are the Reufs (the Sketches) as the lower class. Keep in mind, this is a children’s story yet uniquely discusses philosophy about existence. In addition to class struggle, it’s about a creator or God.
Most of the story consists of the searching of the creator. It’s about reasons why their creator painted them but not full colored. The Sketches live in the darkness and fear through mostly in the jungle; in the shadow of the Painting. However, the Painting oppressed them like lower-class people. In the name of their painter, there is essence as to why painting, or animation, is valuable or invaluable.
There is a resemblance to “Toy Story” and “Inception”. For instance, in one of the paintings, they didn’t realize they were paintings. They didn’t know why they fought a war and why they danced around the city. It’s a question of searching; the meaning of life when these paintings come to life. They learn about what makes them unique. It’s about their characters and the reason why they were a painting. After all, they stuck to their question especially Lola (Kamali Minter) as the most prominent character.
The movie very focused on Lola’s point of view where she isn’t in control or where she is. The story drives from one painting to another, wondering from one character to another. She asked: do they know their creator? It emphasized again when Lola’s journey at the end of the film tried to find the painter again. When she, and other characters, come out of their world, they try to portray reality beyond reality. There is something beyond their mind that doesn’t live up. One of them is questioning or searching for the existence of God whether they are real or not. Do they not have the creator or not?
I could talk about this movie for one night, how much philosophy or depth of the story in this film. And I love every second of the frame in this movie. The movie has a breathtaking yet gorgeous animation. It’s also rather difficult to compare how weird or beautiful, at the same time, this film. Therefore, both children and adults stick so well with the story.
This movie challenges our inner mind and imagination, for adults, by the way, to interpret deeper. On the other hand, it’s a challenge to think critically for children. It’s teaching them easy to understand there is no difference or any message in this movie. One thing I feel awkward, not odd, about this movie. There are a few pointless shots or moments. For example, one of the characters, whether the antagonist or not, trying to catch the protagonist in Venice. Not a matter honestly despite the entire frame beautifully shot.
“The Painting” is a transcendental and fundamental of art, not just for adults perspective but for children as well. One of the best-animated films of the year, probably, and it reminds me of films I watched as a kid. I can call it like Disney films. I can call it also like fantasy films such as “The Wizard of Oz” or “The Chronicles of Narnia”. This is a true knock out both in art and movies. The movie goes beyond our imagination.
4.5 out of 5 stars.