Gobelins is such an institution that it’s easy to forget just how consistently good their work is. An animation school in Paris, their student work is consistently sharp, polished and, for a long while at least, an instantly recognizable, cartoonish style. The first time I saw a Gobelins film, I was blown away that it could be student work. But after a while, you sort of stop noticing them.
In the last few years, though, it feels like their work has become much more diverse. The house style that seemed to be there before has been relaxed, making way for films like Quand J’ai Remplacé Camille to try something completely different. And it’s hard not to take notice.
It’s the more unusual stylistic choices that really make the film stand out. Two moments in particular stand out to me: one near the beginning, where the score drops away as the title appears, leaving just the swimmer’s strained breathing; the other in the middle, where the action freezes in a moment of tension. In both cases, it’s absence that makes the impact–silence and stillness that are captivating in their contrast to what came before.
And contrast is exactly what makes Camille so notable. It would be a striking film no matter where it came from, but even with the diversity of Gobelins’ current output, it stands out all the more for the expectations it defies.
QUAND J’AI REMPLACÉ CAMILLE
dir: Nathan Otaño, Rémy Clarke and Leïla Courtillon
syn: Laure must replace a deceased swimmer in the relay swim team. The qualifiers are near and the team worries about their chances at winning; the grief and stress pushes Laure to obsess over the one she replaces, Camille.