Anyone who’s ever been busted flipping through the pages of something a bit naughty at the library or the bookstore – please don’t act like it hasn’t happened to you – ought to get a kinky kick or two out of director Dario van Vree’s animated short Tabook.
Nearly wordless and drawn in a cheery Nickelodeon-esque style, the film follows a young lady in a bookshop as she deals with a variety of meddlesome fellow browsers. It seems that everything she picks up off the shelf, from romantic self-help tomes to the latest young-adult trifle (a jab at Twilight may be dated, but it’s still pretty funny) invites the scorn of some haughty customer and/or his judgmental chihuahua. When our heroine discovers, and quickly becomes enraptured with, a lavishly illustrated volume on the joys of S&M, it’s enough to kick off a store-wide scandal; can she overcome her insecurity and leave the shop with what she desires, or will the kink-shamers and their prudish ways prevail?
“It’s a lot cuter than it is transgressive…”
Featuring a jaunty jazz score, a potential romance with a cashier who looks like a hipster Johnny Bravo, and what has to be one of the most erotic gift-wrapping sequences ever put on screen (at least in animated form), Tabook is amusing throughout, and it works in a nice message about individuality and empowerment, to boot. It’s a lightweight little thing, clocking in at well under three minutes of running time, but the film leaves a lasting impression in the way that it’s somehow able to be both adorable and risqué at the same time. There’s no shortage of animated films out there that tackle adult themes and target adult audiences, but too rarely do they prioritize being charming and fun to the degree that this one does. It’s a lot cuter than it is transgressive, but it’s also refreshingly sex-positive without being heavy-handed about it.
For all those reasons, Tabook is well worth a look, and should some nosy goody-goody try to judge you for watching it, don’t worry – the film has some pretty solid advice for just how you should handle them.
Tabook (2016) Written and directed by Dario van Vree.
4 out of 5 stars