REVIEW: Affairs of the Art [2021]

Rating: 7 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 16 minutes
    Release Date: 2021 (UK) / December 9th, 2021 (USA)
    Studio: National Film Board of Canada / The New Yorker
    Director(s): Joanna Quinn
    Writer(s): Les Mills

Another obsessive in the family.

Fifteen years after the character’s last foray in Dreams & Desires: Family Ties and thirty-five years since her debut in Girls Night Out, everyone’s favorite Welsh housewife Beryl (Menna Trussler) is back to narrate a series of anecdotes centered upon her eccentric family while pursuing a new obsession: hyper-futurism. The original team of Joanna Quinn (director and animator) and Les Mills (writer) takes us behind the scenes of their star’s art by showcasing the tireless support of her husband (walking up and down the stairs nude) and her full-tilt embracement of her own body as a paintbrush. More than just her creations and the hoops she puts people through to create them, however, Affairs of the Art seeks to remind us that artistic creation possesses no defined boundaries.

Is her sister Bev (Quinn) any less an artist with her passion for taxidermy or affinity for plastic surgery (making her biology her canvas)? What about her son Colin’s (Brendan Charleson) creations in pursuit of his evolving passions for odds and ends like screw threads and birds—the latter of which involves him in a plot to avenge a pet’s death with murder? When art is involved, everything becomes fair game no matter how morbid (a tale of Bev spending hours with a dead body), X-rated (Beryl attempting to fit into an “uplift bra”), or absurd (mocking the family for going overboard while using a brush to apply blue paint to her entire body). Quinn and Mills take that to heart, pushing their characters into increasingly wild scenarios.

No matter how entertaining the hijinks, though, the draw is the animation. This sixteen-minute film is hand-drawn on paper before being scanned into a computer for coloring and compositing. Its rough, sketchy nature lends a personal touch that CGI cannot replicate, the organic movements and embellishments rendered with meticulous care right down to the apparently genetic buck-tooth appearance of Beryl’s so-called menagerie of “geeks.” The mixture of love and disgust and jealousy and admiration for each of this factory worker-turned-artiste’s journeys back in time delivers an energetic atmosphere of uncertainty as we’re never sure just how far Quinn and Mills will take this crew’s child and adult forms for a laugh. The answer is, of course: as far as necessary. Their dedication to the bit knows no bounds.

courtesy of ShortsTV

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