It takes a lot to wow me when it comes to animation stills, especially ones conjuring yet another rainy, dreary, effing dystopia. Part of me still hopes for a vibrant comeback for traditional animation and the swathing warmth and human connection that computer animation simply cannot match, at least in my opinion. But there is a mesmerizing and bewitching appeal to the following stills, and coinciding trailer, for Metropia that, as you may have guessed, I’m a bit gaga for. Add voice/character work from Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, and Stellan Skarsgård (the first two POTC) an adult rating, and years in the making to further alleviate the Philip K. Dickian tropes.
Gallo voices Roger, a working stiff with no social life who rides his bike in semi-defiance of a massive underground transit system in Europe. It’s 2024. As seem in the trailer, Roger suffers from a mundane voice in his head. He is also smitten with a model and complete stranger, Nina, (Juliette Lewis) who appears on television advertising shampoo. One day he meets her and she clues him in to a conspiracy regarding the voice in his head, one that reveals a consumerist conspiracy. The director and co-writer, Tarik Saleh, aspires in scope and style to evoke the works of Terry Gilliam and George Orwell. He previously directed a live-action documentary in 2005 entitled Gitmo, about the real life dystopian camp that should have never happened. There is more information online per the conspiracy, but I’ll stop there.
The film premiered recently at Fantastic Fest, and reviews have been encouraging. What’s more, the Swedish film only cost $4.5 million U.S. leading to Twitch Film to declare in a review, “Set in a disturbingly familiar near-future, Tarik Saleh’s METROPIA blends the grey, surreal absurdity of vintage [Franz] Kafka with cutting edge digital animation to create something truly striking and unique. …his technique immediately establishes him as one of the most striking and unique voices in global animation.” The feted animation technique is said to utilize real life photos and actors similar to the rotoscoping in A Scanner Darkly, but with an all-encompassing, anime character-like bent. For instance, the Roger character is said to be directly based on the body and movements of a Stockholm chef who was friendly with the production team beforehand.
Let us know what you think in the comments….
No, that isn’t Harry Dean Stanton. Darn.
The above image is probably my fave; looks like art you might see at Gallery 1988.
Metropia is currently on the festival circuit and a wider release schedule for American is not currently available. Vincent Gallo can also be seen—if you track down a theatre—in Francis Ford Coppola‘s Tetro, still in limited and oh-so-quiet release. He said in an interview about Metropia that it was a relief not to have to worry that he was ugly on screen. Oh, Gallo, you pretentious, over-talented basterd. Viewer ratings for the film at Fantastic Fest are currently at ***1/2 stars out of four on the fest’s official site.