Flowing Home


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Flowing Home
"The rippling nature of the animation makes it perfect for depicting those things on the edge of the real."

It's not just the title of Sandra Desmazières that is flowing (in the English translation), there's a constant sense of movement within the animation as the memories of two sisters separated by the Vietnam War play out. Her story unfolds as an epistolary tale running back and forth in time as the sister who left, Thao (voiced by Sara Martins) and the one who stayed,  Sao Maï (Linh-Dan Pham). The use of grease pencil shading adds to the sense of every moment being in flux as these two sisters reveal their very different experiences.

Thao recalls her treacherous trip that ends in snowy Montreal with a different name that she hates, while Sao Maï details all the ways in which her world changed as a result of the severance between them. In both cases the rippling nature of the animation makes it perfect for depicting those things on the edge of the real - the monster in the refugee camp other children tell Thao will drag her to hell if she sits on the toilet too long or the ghosts of absent loved ones. This coupled with her pastel palette also helps to emphasise the negative feelings the sisters have, including loneliness and anxiety.

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The flow of the years is further accentuated by Manuel Merlot's varied score that draws on different periods to reinforce the sense of place and time.The result - which has made the 15-strong short animation Oscar shortlist - is a delicate reconstruction of a dual past that reflects a fragility both women feel, even in the hopeful anticipation of reunion.

Reviewed on: 28 Dec 2021
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Two sisters who are split up by the Vietnam War swap letters about their experiences.

Director: Sandra Desmazières

Writer: Sandra Desmazières

Starring: Linh-Dan Pham, Sara Martins

Year: 2021

Runtime: 15 minutes

Country: France, Canada


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