Betty

****

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Betty
"Moody and embittered and near unique."

Will Anderson's film does not so much break the fourth wall as treat it as a permeable membrane. The osmotic pressure of a "director's commentary" for a film that does not otherwise exist and is at once unfinished is playful with the proverbial Proscenium in ways that Zeus in a hanging basket or Bono on a glittery gangplank could not dream of.

Revisiting an old wound in the service of the confessional, this is almost tortuous, a picking at in the service of truth that brings ruin with it. Lovebirds like clowns, IRN BRU in the door, moody and embittered and near unique. One could set it in a canon of media-mediated meditations on loss. It's certainly shorter than Wandavision but one wagers that its budget would not have covered one twitch of a witches nose. Though its craft is certainly enough to sprinkle magic.

Animators trapped by their own creations are not new, indeed Will thanks in the credits Ainslie Henderson who helped with the making of The Making Of Longbird where another animator is variously undone by a bird. Yet it is rare and difficult to create something that feels at once so arch and so earnest, to through complexity find within a sea of sadness that one wave of regret. Awarded the Scottish Short Film Award at 2020's Glasgow Short Film Festival the Jury were effusive, one highlight of their praise that "It all builds an indescribable and humoristic way of having fun with the expectations of the spectator."

I can tell you that it's good and you will, hopefully, believe me, but I cannot click your way to it for you to see yourself. Somewhere else there may be an intersection of what I'll call festival animation and the roman a clef but here the real is also invented, or at least further obfuscated, but in that abstraction (which abounds) meaning is clear. The mixture of the thematically profound and emotionally complex with seemingly simple animation has echoes of Hertzfeld but the metatextuality at play here is if not Kafkaesque then Kaufmanesque. Even as there is discussion of rigs and placement and points and motion Betty is constructing a lever with which to move its audience.

Reviewed on: 20 Mar 2021
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A little green bird called Bobby is looking for his butter, his partner Betty and for the love that seems to have melted away.

Director: Will Anderson

Writer: Will Anderson

Year: 2020

Runtime: 7 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

GSFF 2020

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