TIFF15 REVIEW: Bunny [2015]

Score: 5/10 | ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 15 minutes | Release Date: 2015 (India)
Studio: Missfit Films
Director(s): Megha Ramaswamy
Writer(s): Megha Ramaswamy

“Friends of your springtime / they are all vanishing / fleeing to fables”

Some films end with me desperately trying to find a way to love them to no avail. Megha Ramaswamy‘s Bunny is just such a piece. It is beautifully shot with a Wes Anderson sense of whimsical artifice that’s devoid of dialogue besides the cries of a child. It’s a fantastical fable about a little girl’s (Syesha P Adnani) friend/stuffed animal, its death at the (assumed) hands of a frustrated older sister, and miraculous resurrection with the help of a neighbor boy (Faizan Mohammed). Weird, eccentric things occur every step of the way and the end ultimately arrives with a disturbing tone. I think it’s supposed to be hopeful and optimistic, but all I saw was death and despair: a toy of such importance leading its owner astray towards oblivion.

This is probably due to a cultural disparity from Ramaswamy’s spiritual/Indian visual metaphors. Perhaps unexplained moments like the girl jumping to unlock her apartment’s door leading her to float in the air or the boy and the bunny walking towards a wall with an outline of the two awaiting their presence can be chalked up to traditional narratives and motifs unfamiliar to me. Marbles play a big role too—sometimes in the girl’s mouth and others signifying rebirth in their being left behind from a magical event. Ramaswamy jumps to slomo vignettes of the children painted like bunnies on a darkened, snowy night, often cross-cutting the two as they engage in similar acts at different locations for a paralleling I cannot decipher.

Pieces are great—some of the most memorable imagery I’ve seen within the Toronto International Film Festival’s shorts program. So it’s impossible to discount the work completely. I loved the dirt stain representing blood soaking the boy’s hands as he tries to bring the plush rabbit to life. I loved the girl inexplicably trapped sitting on a chair affixed to a wall halfway between floor and ceiling while her sister constructs a puzzle below. The sense that this bunny is all that provides these two kids with imagination in a serious world trying to squash it is noticeable too if not overtly abstracted. Because we leave the boy in tears and the girl without a smile, though, it’s hard not to think the story culminates with a tragic end masked by its fluffy surface.

Courtesy of TIFF

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