Poles Apart

****1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Poles Apart
"The textures of this film are lovely, from the grains of snow that we see blow into footprints, to the distinctive coats of the two bears, that ruffle in the wind and with movement."

Actress Paloma Baeza proves there's considerably more to her skill set with this beautifully crafted stop-motion animation, which won The McLaren Award for best animation at Edinburgh Film Festival.

Nanuk (Helena Bonham Carter at the mic) is a polar bear, who has been on something of a crash diet due to global warming. She's on the trail of her first kill in forever when Aklak (Joseph May, who many may know as the recent voice of Thomas the Tank Engine) pops up from nowhere. He's a brown grizzly bear in a natty hat, with a backpack full of tricks and is considerably less, well, feral, than his northern neighbour.

Copy picture

The question only remains whether this will ultimately turn out to be a meet-cute or eat-cute, with Aklak on the prospective menu.

The textures of this film are lovely, from the grains of snow that we see blow into footprints, to the distinctive coats of the two bears, that ruffle in the wind and with movement. The puppets were made by top squad Mackinnon and Saunders (Corpse Bride, Fantastic Mr Fox), so perhaps that should come as no surprise. The decision not to play down either bear's teeth, also lends the action an edge of danger and stops them becoming too cute. Baeza generates strong emotions in a short time, particularly in a delicately worked cave sequence, which sees Aklak yearn for his past stomping ground. It, like the ice melting around them, carries with it a hint of environmental change, this time, the brutality of forest destruction. "I'm real adaptable," he says.

Soft enough for children not to get too scared but with enough sharp wit to entertain adults, this pair of bears fully deserve their pole position at EIFF.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2017
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Stop-motion animation about an unlikely friendship in the Arctic.

Director: Paloma Baeza

Writer: Paloma Baeza

Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Joseph May

Year: 2017

Runtime: 12 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

EIFF 2017

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