SXSW 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! Solipsism starts with a girl making things out of (presumably) clay. She eventually makes a bird and feels quite accomplished in this feat. While beaming about the bird, she begins to feel alone, as she has no one with who she can share her creation. The crushing weight of her loneliness literally drags her into another dimension.
This place is lined with mirrors as far as the eye can see. The mirrors show you what you want to see but then traps you inside, to further fuel the sense of hopelessness off of which it feeds. Can our protagonist find the inner-strength to break free? Or is she doomed never to feel like she’s good enough, trapped in an endless downward spiral of her own making?
The 6-minute short says a whole lot about self-doubt, self-acceptance, social norms, and the walls we put up, sometimes without even knowing it, that keep others out. It is the girl’s inability to connect with anyone, seemingly because she’s afraid to, that takes her to the mirror dimension. It is that same fear that compels her to touch the mirror, despite the evidence around her not to do so. It is a tall order for any movie to tackle but co-directors Tuna Bora and Jonathan Djob Nkondo do so with grace and style.
“The crushing weight of her loneliness literally drags her into another dimension.”
The 2-D animation is stunningly gorgeous. The backgrounds are only one color, maybe a gradient two, but have sparks of life to them. Whether it’s squiggly lines or a smoky mist-like texture, the monochrome environments have a vibrant energy to them. The cinematography plays with its medium of choice in startling, inventive ways. Instead of always editing from one angle to the next, the camera pivots, roams, and circles its way around the girl. This is a beautiful effect, making it seem like the film exists in a three-dimensional world, but we can only view two dimensions at any given time.
This means the visuals match the themes of how not viewing all of yourself, and allowing only the negative aspects to take hold can cut you off from the rest of the world in a striking, bold way. The animators also do a fantastic job with the character of the girl. At one point, she falls down, flattening her face and chest. She grabs and pulls out herself, and a bubble expands inside her, inflating the girl to her regular dimensions. Solipsism is an exquisite work of art, whose great detail shows how much love and time went into its production.
However, Solipsism does have a flaw. Sadly, that is the ending is a bit confusing to work precisely how, why, and what happened. I understand thematically what the end is meant to represent, but as it plays out, I am not sure how the film arrives at its last few frames. Confusion aside, the ending still resonants, as the filmmakers understand that these anxieties can seemly be insurmountable, but change is possible. Not only is it possible, but it is freeing.
Solipsism was scheduled to screen at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival.
"…the visuals match the themes...in a striking, bold way."