Friday, February 03, 2012

Global Lens ’12: Short, Fat, Bald Man

Antonio Farfan cuts a distinctly George Costanza-like profile, but he has none of the Yankees’ special assistant to the traveling secretary’s confidence, such as it was. Still, he might just develop a smidge of social confidence in Carlos Osuna’s Fat, Bald, Short Man (trailer here), an earnest animated feature that screens tonight at The Picture House in Pelham, New York, as part of the 2012 Global Lens collection, which started its annual tour this January at MoMA.

Farfan is the only employee with any integrity in a Bogotá notary’s office, until the arrival of the new boss. Not only is Mr. Enriquez honest, he happens to be the near spitting image of Farfan. However, Enriquez is assertive and sociable. He duly takes Farfan under his wing, but the nebbish clerk is not about to explode out of his shell anytime soon. Nonetheless, if he ever stands up to his abusive mooch of a brother that will at least be something.

Fat is a small, modest film, largely distinguished by its striking animation. Mixing rotoscope effects, traditional 2D animation, and photorealistic backgrounds, it has a distinctly idiosyncratic look. As storytellers though, Osuna and collaborating writers Carlos Andrés Reyes and Juan Mauricio Ruiz opt for the scrupulously realistic. They will only grant Farfan small victories and force him to endure multiple public humiliations, despite their obvious love for the Colombian Charlie Brown.

Osuna’s team creates some nice scenes for the two short bald men, but the most memorable sequences involve Farfan’s strained relationship with a dying neighbor. Contradicting the film’s expected carpe diem message, the old man’s persistent regrets are definitely of things done rather than not done.

Álvaro Bayona sensitively gives voice to Farfan’s neuroses and Osuna’s stylish animation helps compensate during the occasional slow moments. While relatively circumspect, the payoff is rather satisfying, because it is straight forward and believable. A well meaning, technically accomplished animated film recommended for those with adult attention spans, Fat screens tonight (2/3) and Thursday (2/9) at The Picture House as the 2012 Global Lens tour makes its way from MoMA to Pelham.