Film Review: Ode to an Inanimate Companion
ODE TO AN INANIMATE COMPANION features the animated story following a girl, Christina’s relationship to her plush baby lion doll, Alan. Alan must face the anxiety of being inanimate with the desire to be everlasting.
Beautiful orchestral accompaniment by Manu Martin - both string and piano forward - sweeps audiences into Christina’s journey to adulthood. A montage takes the audiences through Christina’s life from her childhood bedroom in California to her life in the city working, dating, and ultimately becoming an adult. Meanwhile, we witness Alan’s struggle with his sense of self.
The 2D animation style differs, a lovely hodgepodge. It juxtaposes familiar indoor and outdoor settings of an apartment and the city, but mixes in fantastical nature. To add to the magic there is a repeated visual motif of DNA presented in surreal fashion as part of structures in the world seeming to reinforce a theme of life. The background sky is impressionist, like stepping into a Monet painting. The entire piece is constantly moving and shifting into slice-of-life vignettes. It has a dazzling feel to it all with creative direction from Dr. Susan Lim, Dr. Christina Teenz Tan with animation direction by Samudra Kajal Saikia.
The bold imagery matches the dramatic accompaniment that ranges from yearning to bursting when Christina herself breaks out into song. Christina’s comforting lullaby sung by Enyonam Gbesemete to Alan provides the catharsis for the piece. In the lullaby, Christina reminds Alan that he is a part of her always, and that their bond is everlasting.
Adrian Peacock’s storybook style narration invites you into the friendship between Christina and Alan. Unlike Woody in Toy Story, Alan actively interacts with Christina. They spend time reading, snuggling, dancing, riding rides. He is lifelike, but has limits. He seems to feel trapped, not able to experience the ongoing change of something like seasons.
The theme of the piece seems to be that there is life in the inanimate. In her ode, Christina wills a way to connect herself to Alan, a lifeforce bond of love. That love likely transcends time and space, and it’s moving. The whole piece is an epic emotional journey taken all in the course of ten minutes that has you wanting to snuggle your old childhood doll.
Ode to an Inanimate Companion - Trailer