Last week’s short put us in the mood for naturalistic animation, and Xaver Böhm’s Roadtrip (released under his pseudonym Xaver Xylophon) strikes the right emotional tone for this afternoon. Set in Berlin in the summertime, the film follows Julius as he suffers from a bout of persistent insomnia. Determined to clear his head, he decides to head on a road trip to shake up his routine, but just like sleep, the trip never seems to come, delayed by an increasing pileup of small setbacks.
Despite the frustrations that lead to Julius largely spinning his wheels over the film’s 20-minute run, Roadtrip is a pleasant experience. Nighttime mopeyness aside, Julius remains in relatively good spirits as he socializes, hangs out at his local pub, and fantasizes about his escape. There’s a lived-in quality to the film’s settings and its relationships that makes for easy watching—the naturalism makes viewing the Roadtrip feel almost like eavesdropping.
That subdued tone comes through in the film’s artwork, too. There’s an unfussed quality to Böhm’s illustration, which manages to be simple without being cartoonish. Dingy bars, drab train platforms, sparsely furnished apartments — Böhm doesn’t glamourize any of them, but they feel comfortable nonetheless.
When I say Roadtrip feels right for now, that’s the feeling that I mean. The anxieties and the restlessness are there throughout, there are sleepless nights and a sense of being stuck in place. But there are also connections to be made, moments to be enjoyed, modest pleasures that make the day worthwhile. In the end it doesn’t matter if and when the road trip actually comes. It was always just a means to an end, anyway.
dir: Xaver Böhm
syn: Julius can’t sleep. To get his head empty he decides to go on a roadtrip, but somehow he can’t manage to leave.
A hand drawn film about failure, insomnia, a red motorbike, pretty bargirls, the desolateness of Berlin (even in summer) and waterproof socks.