REVIEW: The Windshield Wiper [2021]

Rating: 8 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 14 minutes
    Release Date: 2021 (USA)
    Studio: The Animation Showcase
    Director(s): Alberto Mielgo
    Writer(s): Alberto Mielgo

‘Cause soon enough we’ll die.


The first thing I thought while watching Alberto Mielgo‘s short film The Windshield Wiper was that it must be utilizing rotoscoping. Every character populating his multiple vignettes about relationships—all sparked by a chain-smoking gentleman in a bar positing the question, “What is love?”—looks and feels real within his/her environments in a way that seems hard to fathom as not having been traced above live-action footage. As soon as you delve into the end credits, however, you see that it’s all been 3D-rendered by animators. The scenes are based on memories and eavesdropped moments Mielgo has experienced, but their look and feel are his own interpretations of them. It’s a glorious feat of artistry that ensures the piece is worth a look on aesthetic alone.

That the message it delivers proves so profound almost seems like a bonus despite it being the driving force behind the project. Each glimpse into these characters’ lives is filled with the hope, pain, and desire we’ve all felt at one time or another. Some of them are devastating (lost love, mixed signals, suicide). Some are familiar and perhaps generic in their matter-of-fact delivery (a shared cigarette on the beach or sex). Some are funny (two Tinder-users swiping away as they keep reaching for the same items at the grocery store). And some heartfelt and honest (a drunken homeless man airing out his emotions to a mannequin and asking for forgiveness). Brief interludes (the simplicity of a shared kiss) juxtapose against multi-part narratives to visualize love.

What quantifies it is your reaction to the romance and tragedy alike. There’s purpose to how Mielgo presents each chapter that goes beyond pacing and punchlines. He’s easing us in with silent moments of universality before punctuating the whole with quick bursts of suffering and longing that are no less important to answering that bar patron’s question than the rest. It’s all relevant—the XXX ads surrounding a public phone, the fallen petals of roses in the rain, and the courage to stop and say something to the woman you pass almost every day. They may be objectively different from each other in every conceivable way, but they all become each participant’s entry fee into the rarified space of feeling that indescribable feeling to which nothing else compares.


photography:
courtesy of ShortsTV

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