$9.99 Tatia Rosenthal

$9.99 Tatia Rosenthal
Like most multi-narrative ensemble pieces, Tatia Rosenthal's stop-motion animation adaptation of Etgar Keret's short stories aims to reveal an unspoken unification amongst the disparate and despondent, showing us how we are all connected despite constant reminders of ideological isolation. But unlike other recent entries into this canon, such as The Air I Breathe and Powder Blue, $9.99 is actually watchable, not saying anything particularly new, but clipping along at a nice pace, with a unique aesthetic sensibility and a visual lyricism that work well with the fairy tale dynamic of it all. Including voice work from Geoffrey Rush, Anthony Lapaglia and Joel Edgerton, a tale unfolds of a man in his 20s, directionless in career and life path, who orders a book for $9.99 that claims to detail the meaning of life. Meanwhile, his brother enters into a relationship with an international supermodel who has a tactile preference for smoothness, leading to bouts of shaving and sacrifice of self for wants of another. Indeed, what we have here are tales of personal enlightenment, whether it be through self-actualization, reckless abandon or self-centred downward mobility, as detailed by a man that entertains a delusional world of youthful insouciance and intoxication after his girlfriend leaves him citing lack of maturity. These characters don't all find a similar euphoria and glib resolution to their central struggles, instead learning that connection isn't about mirrored internal process, finding commonality in the universal existential plight. Perhaps the most amusing and overtly metaphorical tale is that of a transient man that pins the guilt of his suicide on a bystander, only to return to earth as a selfish, foul-mouthed angel, eventually taking a Wim Wenders dive, with logical but unexpected results. It reiterates a comic lack of idealism, as espoused by all else in this whimsical and occasionally profane metaphysical yarn. If occasionally simplistic and calculated in its assertions, this Australian import communicates what it sets out to without patronizing or boring, which alone is quite the feat. For fans of this style of animation, the DVD includes two other short films by Tatia Rosenthal, which are far less polished, but fun nonetheless. (E1)