Friday, September 5, 2014

Movie with Abe: Rocks in My Pockets

Rocks in My Pockets
Directed by Signe Baumane
Released September 3, 2014

Animated movies aren't always for children. Some are good for all audiences and can be appreciated by children and adults alike, while others skew towards an older, more sophisticated audience. It's abundantly clear in the opening moments of this new animated feature that "Rocks in My Pockets" is most definitely an experience for adults, a harrowing and often brutal examination of depression and suicidal tendencies in writer-director Signe Baumane's extended family. Fortunately, this tale is a fervently interesting and extremely well-executed one, consistently engaging and thought- provoking.

This is a film that doesn't belong to a very populous genre to begin with as a mature animated production, and its style sets it apart in an even more unique class. Baumane narrates the entire film, putting on an accent or an extra intonation whenever she has to speak words of dialogue attributed to someone with a voice other than a standard calm feminine one. The lack of conversation or characters seen actually speaking to one another forces the film to use images to tell the part of its story usually left to the actors' lines.

Baumane's straightforward storytelling, which includes a strong Latvian accent, is accompanied by a marvelous display of creativity onscreen. Some events play out just as they're explained or described, but most are embellished in a way that serves to highlight the feelings and emotions behind each development, sentence, or thought. At times, it's equally amusing and horrifying to watch as visual depictions of strength, stress, happiness, hope, and other often intangible concepts are shown to tremendous effect. Constructing this film must have been an extraordinary thing, and it's clear that much effort was put into each frame.

In addition to its strong use of animation to tell its story, "Rocks in My Pockets," which boasts a clever and fitting title, does a magnificent job of personalizing its saga as a different protagonist emerges in each chapter. Baumane introduces her family members one by one as the drama revolves around each one of them, and it's easy to get pulled into their stories. The film hardly leaves its viewer with a positive, inspired feeling given its serious subject matter, but it’s very easy throughout to be drawn in and difficult to shake. Overall, this intensive experience is a thorough and compelling look at depression and endurance through a fascinatingly creative lens.


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