The Painting is not a film for everyone. Despite being an animated film, this French film is definitely not designed for kids. And, it’s also not for everyone else—just folks who can admire its artistry and style. As I sat and watched this one with my daughter, she clearly became bored with the film—though she admitted that the film was visually stunning. As for me, I could agree that the film has slow moments, but it’s one you need to keep watching, as it becomes more and more spectacular as you watch.
The film begins within a painting where all the characters in the painting are alive and there is its own little world. It’s also a highly prejudiced world and there is a clear caste system. At the top are the Alldunns—characters who are completely painting by the artist. They feel superior and look down on the others. Next come the Halfies—those who are painted but who have not had all their colors applied. And, at the bottom, come the Sketchies—primitive sketches and nothing more. Within this world is a problem, as an Alldunn has fallen in love with a Halfie—and his fellow Alldunns are NOT pleased! So what are the young lovers to do? Yep…they’re going in search of the artist himself to get him to finish the painting and make everyone equal! Along the way, the girl gets lost but her boyfriend continues the trip—along with a very brave Halfie girl and a poor Sketchie. While this all sounds very weird, it does get weirder. Eventually, the trio manage to get to the edge of the painting and then…they pass through it to the outside world. They find themselves in the artist’s studio. He isn’t there…but many of his paintings are. Amazingly, they find that they can enter these paintings as well—and soon they make friends with a young soldier named Magenta. What’s next? See the film—it is rather amazing.
The first 15 or so minutes of the film is stuck on the original painting. It is a rather garish land—much like a Gaugin painting. Most of the characters weren’t very interesting, the colors are garish and I wish that less time had been spent here. However, I urge you to sit tight and keep watching! The other paintings often have a different look (such as Modigliani and Cocteau)—as if they were done by an artist trying various styles. Some of these are quite arresting—as it is seeing the characters from the paintings walking in both a CG world (the studio) as well as into the real world itself at the very end! Additionally, because the film is made by using computer graphics, they are able to achieve a wonderful 3D look that is completely unique. Sure, some of Aleksandr Petrov’s shorts are prettier when it comes to the paintings (especially since Petrov does it without computers), but he couldn’t achieve exactly the same sort of look and style—nor could he bring the real world into the computer graphics world.
So did I adore the film? No. I agree with my oldest daughter that the film does have some slow moments and forgettable characters. It also might improve if it was a bit shorter and tighter. But, I still recommend you see it because it is so unique and clever. It’s a film for anyone wanting something different or who has a love of both animation and art films.
Martin’s Grade: B+
Article by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer