Thursday, December 13, 2012

Spanish Cinema Now ’12: Wrinkles

Emilio is about to rediscover the joys of institutional food.  The former banker has a hard time adjusting to life in an old folks home.  Unfortunately, his fading faculties will eventually rob him of the relationships he forges in Ignacio Ferreas’s animated feature Wrinkles (trailer here), which screens as part of the 2012 edition of Spanish Cinema Now.

Emilio has Alzheimer’s, but nobody will tell him that directly.  Increasingly difficult to handle, his grown son has packed him off to a nursing home.  His new roommate Miguel, an Argentinian scammer, has been down this road before.  Still sharp as a tack, Miguel specializes in conning the more addled residents out of their pocket money and flirting hopelessly with the nursing staff.  Initially, Emilio is quite appalled by his shameless roommate, but they warm to each other over time—sort of.  Miguel insists he is actually doing good deeds by keeping his suckers emotionally engaged on some level.  While completely at odds with his middle class morality, Emilio starts to see his point.

Adapted from Paco Roca’s graphic novel, Wrinkles is entirely honest to its characters and their circumstances, making it a bit of a tough sell commercially.  Nonetheless, its deeply humanistic spirit is quite refreshing.  Avoiding cheap melodrama, it has more quietly telling moments than most slice-of-life live action indies, let alone the typical animated tent-pole.

Ferreras, who served as an animator on Sylvain Chomet’s wonderfully wistful The Illusionist, employs a similarly sensitive 2D animation that feels reassuringly nostalgic.  Some of his richly detailed flashback sequences are even quite lovely.  While the narrative occasionally resorts to the odd cliché, like the defiant, doomed-to-fail road-trip, most of the notes Wrinkles hits ring true.

While its themes are about as “mature” as they get, there is absolutely nothing objectionable in Wrinkles for young viewers.  Still, the vibe of sad resignation is probably best appreciated by somewhat older audiences.  Featuring two very real cartoon characters and an elegant visual style, Wrinkles is recommended surprisingly strongly for fans of both animation and Spanish film.  It screens this coming Sunday afternoon (12/16) as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Spanish Cinema Now series.