REVIEW: Sister [2019]

Score: 8/10 | ★ ★ ★


Rating: NR | Runtime: 8 minutes | Release Date: 2019 (China)
Studio: The Animation Showcase
Director(s): Siqi Song
Writer(s): Siqi Song

“She was an annoying little baby”

Looking back on a life growing up with a sister four years the lead’s junior, Siqi Song‘s animated short Sister starts off with a wonderful comedic streak. She lets the character’s imagination run away with his memories so that the crying baby who stole his toys can become a giant consuming them with a giggle. There’s the more authentically drawn cause and effect of sibling chaos sometimes confusing a parent into punishing the wrong child and the silly adventures undertaken when both are too young to fully comprehend complex meanings to otherwise simple words. Portrayed with stop-motion felt figures covered in tiny fibers swaying as each frame moves to the next, Song’s medium becomes a character as well once she lets its malleability play a narrative role itself.

As we’ll soon find out, however, this look back into the past isn’t a comedy. The sights, sounds (love the squeak whenever the baby presses her finger into her brother’s face), and narration (by Bingyang Liu) may cause us to laugh, but it’s all a means to disarm us from the difficult truth to come. While you can probably guess what Song’s revelation will be due to her being Chinese (and her penchant for sprinkling visual clues into the background), knowing won’t diminish its impact. It might actually augment the whole instead thanks to an inevitably melancholic vein of emotion entering the picture. Truth and lie flip as remembrance transforms into fantasy. How much does family change us? How much does it affect our identity? In a word: immensely.

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