Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Shortlist Pick: Requiem for Romance

They happen in wildly different eras, but both hurt like a roundhouse kick to the side of the head.  Frankly, most guys would rather take the beatdown than get the “it’s not you, it’s me” call.  Animator Jonathan Ng juxtaposes the soundtrack of an awkward end of a relationship with a scene of traditional wuxia action in Requiem for Romance (trailer here), which is part of the Academy’s shortlist of ten animated shorts still in Oscar contention.

When Tsai finally answers Yun’s calls, she has some bad news for her fellow artist.  Their relationship had been on the d.l., but now it is over-and-out.  He feels a lot like the warrior ambushed by his former lover on the rooftops of a feudal Chinese village.  At least, the swordsman can fight back.

Incorporating watercolor painting and hand-drawn animation, Requiem’s animation is unusually stylish, evoking all sorts of films, paintings, and graphic design that came before it.  Connoisseurs of Asian cinema will especially appreciate some of its references.  Yet, despite the lovingly rendered fight sequences, Requiem will appeal to both hardcore cineastes and fanboys, in equal measure.

The voice-over cast of Shannon Kook-chun and Meilie Ng (as Yun and Tsai, respectively) play their parts with warmth and sensitivity.  Somehow, their words are not completely overwhelmed by Jonathan Ng’s striking visuals (and that is saying something).  Original both in conception and execution, Ng’s Requiem for Romance is the class of the Academy’s animated short film shortlist, which includes some very nice films, like Room on the Broom, the latest from the team that produced The Gruffalo.  Highly recommended for animation and martial arts fans, look for Requiem in upcoming showcases of Oscar shortlisted (and hopefully nominated) shorts.