Hopefully last Thursday’s announcement of this year’s Academy Award nominees will drive people to see films in some of the smaller, lesser known categories. That’s one of the things I love about the Oscars – being introduced to new films that I otherwise would have missed. This year there are several well made gems that earned some attention on the festival circuit and now have received Academy Award nominations. The animated short film “Me and My Moulton” is a shining example.
Torill Kove writes and directs this semi-autobiographical look at childhood feelings we all can relate to. Kove, who won an Oscar in 2007 for her animated short “The Danish Poet”, draws from her personal memories and for 14 minutes places us in the head of a 7-year old girl from Norway. She has two sisters, one older and one younger. Her mother and father are unorthodox which sometimes discourages the little girl. Through this young child Kove reminds us of feelings and attitudes we surely had at her age.
The little girl is embarrassed by her parents and their unconventional ways. At one point she laments her father’s mustache saying “10,000 men in our town. One single mustache. And it has to be on my dad. It makes my stomach hurt.” We also see this through her envy of her friend’s family. Her friend’s mother buys them pretty and fancy clothes. Her mom makes her clothes. Her friend’s dad is handsome and adventurous. Her dad is plain and humble. Her friends have bicycles. Her parents can’t afford one. She wants the cool, normal, bourgeois family, but let’s just say something happens with her friend’s family that changes her perspective.
“Me and my Moulton” is a beautiful film both narratively and visually. The animation is simple but perfectly in tune with the story. It’s bright, colorful, and vivid as if shining through a child’s perspective. There are also subtle bits of humor and more heart than many feature length films can muster. It’s such an wonderful and touching little package that comes together in a perfectly satisfying ending. Torill Kove knows how to engage an audience. She also knows how to tell a great story and she doesn’t need two hours and $100 million to do it.