After all the excitement of GIRAF and the myriad other events that made November such a whirlwind, December feels like a good time to step back with a few longer, more reflective shorts. And there aren’t many recent ones better than Lucrèce Andreae’s Pépé le morese (Grandpa Walrus), a favourite from last year’s GIRAF and a multiple-award-winning film besides that.
The film is a family drama, but not exactly a typical one. As befits an animated short, everything is heightened and slightly surreal, the mood of a beach-side memorial lurching from dour to silly to sinister and back. The artwork is a revelation, drawing stylistically from ligne claire European comics, but with a subtlety of colour and richness of texture that I’ve rarely seen in independent shorts. And the humour is deeply idiosyncratic, making for some truly memorable images—the introduction of the title character is one I doubt I’ll ever forget.
The beachfront setting might seem like a dream right now, but then again, so does most of the rest of the film’s elements. But then, isn’t dreaming where most of our emotional baggage gets sorted out?