REVIEW: Anima [2019]

Score: 6/10 | ★ ★ ½


Rating: NR | Runtime: 15 minutes | Release Date: June 27th, 2019 (USA)
Studio: Netflix
Director(s): Paul Thomas Anderson

“Please let me know when you’ve had enough”

When you’re Thom Yorke and well into a career with one of the most recognizable rock bands in the world (they self-release records on a “pay what you want” scale after all), you can think outside the box where advertising is concerned. So don’t be mistaken where his short film collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson is concerned. Anima is very much an advertisement for the album of the same name and Yorke himself as an artist about to tour. The same goes for the viral posters around London displaying a phone number for Anima Technologies and the company’s fictitious dream services. Anything to get the people talking sells records and a fledgling industry like music will take whatever it can get as streaming becomes its main revenue source.

The film proves to be a medley composed of Yorke’s songs “Not the News,” “Traffic,” and “Dawn Chorus.” It begins on a train as he and a woman (real-life partner Dajana Roncione) catch each other’s eyes before a stop. The music amplifies as Damien Jalet‘s choreography moves everyone in sharp fits and starts as though automatons in a dystopian future before walls arrive with projected works by Tarik Barri. The woman leaves a lunch pail on the train that Yorke seeks to return by crawling against a line of silhouetted men on a white platform until they meet again and the box is forgotten. Is it a fantasy, dream, reality? Or is it simply a manifestation of the singer’s anxieties—the impetus for the album itself?

To me it’s a pretty music video with high production value. Netflix gets two huge names in their library and Anderson continues experimenting with an art form he’s enjoyed thanks to frequent collaborations with Haim. The choreography is its strongest aspect with Yorke’s goofy silent film-era expressiveness a close second. Since my days of die-hard Radiohead fandom are fully behind me, however, I haven’t spent time looking up lyrics to see if his mumbling coincides with the visuals thematically, literally, or at all. I simply let the surreal, sensory experience wash over me with little preparation and it succeeds in that respect by helping me enjoy the music more than when I listened without it. Does it earn more merit beyond how that helps sell records? I guess.


photography:
courtesy of Netflix

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