Review: Chestnuts (2016)

Chestnuts (2016)

Directed by: Jasmine Elsen | 6 minutes | animation, short film

Blinkers. You’d better have them on as much as you can, to shut out all the misery of the world. Does ignoring the suffering of the world make you a happier person? That’s what ‘Kastaars’, a Flemish animated short film by Jasmine Elsen, is about.

In this film we see an apartment building where different people live on different floors. Sometimes alone, sometimes in twos, but with one common denominator: none of them care about what happens outside the four walls of their apartment. For example, they do not see how a chicken struggles to make its way up to where its nest is located. One is busy watering plants, the other is absent-mindedly playing with his huge beard, yet another couple is sitting comfortably on the toilet. They don’t look outside, they are only concerned with their own business.

Jasmine Elsen’s animation style is striking in ‘Kastaars’. She combines simple drawings with tangible things like wool and yarn and stop-motion. She doesn’t show her characters at their best, they are stark white, naked, have pointed noses, small saggy breasts and dissatisfied faces. The backgrounds are barely filled in, so that all the attention goes to the characters and the objects that are important to them and their sometimes somewhat uncomfortable actions. The humor rubs against the bizarre, but does not always come across.

Although the message in ‘Kastaars’ is not thick, it is clear. It can’t hurt to take off those blinders a little more often, who knows what you might see!

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