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Every once in a while, after reviewing a huge amount of tripe, you need a pallet-cleanser. You need something that is creative, admirable, and in the end, a fantastic movie. It’s always a refreshing experience after you have watched multiple bad adaptations in a row, and one of those adaptations has one of the most infuriating characters I have ever seen (yes, I am talking about…..). This is why I decided to go to one of my favorite films from recent years, The Painting. This is a beautiful CGI-animated film by Jean-Francois Laguionie, who is the director of Gwen, or the Book of Sand. This is a visually exquisite CGI-animated film, with some of the most creative imagery in any animated film that I have ever seen. It has a few flaws, but how good is The Painting in terms of GKIDS-distributed films? Well, let’s find out.
The Painting’s story takes place inside, well, a painting where there is definitely a hierarchy in terms of how the people in the painting live. You have the Alldunns, people who are fully painted, the Halfies, people who are not completely painted, and the doodle-like Sketchies. Through a curious case of events, a male Alldunn, a female Halfie, and a male Sketchie team up to go find The Painter, who is pretty much their god, in order to get him to come back and finish everyone so there isn’t this needless hate for one another in the painting. In an interesting twist, the female Halfie ends up falling out of their painting and into the real world. She and the others then go on adventures by entering new paintings, meeting new characters, and end up learning about the actual fate of the person that created them.
Essentially, what you are getting is Inception, but with paintings, and that’s not a bad thing. I find the whole idea that these characters inside paintings can jump to and from a painting, and that the characters don’t want to conform to the ideals that are inside each painting. I like the different locations, like a painting where two armies fight for no other reason other than that is what they were painted doing, or a painting of Venice, Italy being a never-ending party. There is even a lot of visual wonder with the painting the three main leads are from, with a forest of giant flowers. It’s a very interesting set-up, with some creative visuals that really give this CGI animation some personality and its own identity that elevates this adventure film above the rest.
Speaking of animation, the animation in this film is great. I know I usually criticize European animation for their misuse of CGI in the past, because, yes, it’s distracting when the art direction doesn’t translate well to CGI, but due to the paint-like look of the film, it definitely allows the CGI to look better in terms of fluid movement, while giving the film its own look. They even find a way to make the CGI look good when they are in the real world. It’s honestly on par with Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Since this is a film about painting, the color pallet is bright and vibrant, with some quite whimsical designs that are visually pleasing to look at. I also love the different designs you see on the characters when the heroes bring back the paint. In terms of the characters, they are simple. The male lead is a romantic, the Sketchie is cynical, and the Halfie is the calm collected individual. However, they don’t come off as annoying or forgettable, and their goals are understandable. I found the ending to also be quite wonderful, with how the painter talks about that while the individuals in the painting thought they were imperfect, the creator sees the beauty in the incomplete. In a way, it’s like real art. What you might see as flawed or ugly, someone else could see as beautiful and abstract. Sure, sometimes certain art is indeed pretentious, and is just as bad as you think it is, but it’s all going to be different for each individual. It’s a good message.
If I had to complain about one thing about this movie, it would have to be that some of the elements are not fully explained. Like, how can our main leads exit through the painting, but others can’t without their help? Why are the giant flowers not actually aggressive? I can also see some people thinking the story is simple, but I think the story is deep enough to be enjoyable to everyone.
The Painting is a creative and visually beautiful animated film. It’s definitely one of the more abstract films from GKIDS’ library of films. I would highly recommend picking up this film for its creative visuals and story. Next time, we move from a GKIDS classic, to a new modern day classic from Netflix, The Little Prince. Thanks for reading, I hope you all liked the article, and see you all next time.
Rating: Go See It!!