One of my favourite things about animation is the way it lets artists play with the narrative potential of visual metaphors. Sure, it can lead to clunky, heavy-handed imagery. But when it’s handled well, it can be deeply affecting.
The protagonist in Jeremy Clapin’s 2008 film Skhizein is beside himself. In a very literal way, he exists precisely 91cm from where his body should be. And all it takes is the first image to sense his isolation, discomfort and confusion. Clapin treats the situation with sympathy, but it’s too unbelievable for anyone else to understand—not even the psychiatrists the protagonist turns to. They’re too hung up on what’s physically possible to recognize that they’re facing an example of profound disconnection.
Maybe the most impressive thing about Skhizein is how Clapin mines empathy and humour from the same images. A sizeable portion of the film consists of sight gags, but they’re laced with melancholy. That tone is only possible thanks to the suspension of disbelief that comes with animation, and it’s why Skhizein sticks with you long after the credits run.