TIFF14 REVIEW: Ma Moulton et Moi [Me and My Moulton] [2014]

Score: 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 14 minutes | Release Date: 2014 (Canada)
Studio: National Film Board of Canada
Director(s): Torill Kove
Writer(s): Torill Kove

“We’ll think about it”

An Oscar-winner for Best Animated Short in 2007 with The Danish Poet and nominated in 2000 for My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts, writer/director Torill Kove returns to the medium with Ma Moulton et Moi [Me and My Moulton]. It’s a brightly colored line drawing cartoon about a young girl and her family in Norway during the spring of 1967 that deals with themes of envy, embarrassment, and empathy to make it relatable for children and adults alike. We all go through phases of wanting to be just like everyone else and conversely completely original at some point in our lives. And whichever we hope to accomplish usually finds opposition—intentionally or not—very close to home.

For the seven-year old girl at the film’s center, those preventing her from being a “regular” kid in a “regular” family are her parents. She sees her best friend’s life in the apartment below her with a mother who stays home and makes snacks and a father who does yard work without a shirt before heading to military training as ideal. Her own mom and dad’s careers as contemporary architects make them stick out like sore thumbs instead. So she yearns for a generic living to escape from constantly being the people in their neighborhood that everyone knows and her solution—along with sisters aged five and seven—is to ask for a bike to both fit in and get away whenever necessary.

Her parents obviously find a way to ruin those plans. Rather than be a brat about it, however, the girl finds understanding and thanks. She improvises joy after realizing the perfection she believed in may not have been as perfect as what she has. Kove therefore injects some nice children’s book morality to the proceedings amidst humor (a three-legged chair gag is great) and artistry (I loved the translucency of the tree leaves to denote their lack of opaqueness even as a whole). The aesthetic is very much two-dimensional Flash animation-esque, but the content helps render any unfair thoughts about it not being Pixar-quality moot. There is a charm to the look that recalls stories from my own childhood—the simplicity of quality many forget in lieu of life-like animated spectacle.

courtesy of TIFF

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