Stanley Pickle

Stanley Pickle


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Stanley lives in a house in the middle of nowhere, with everything running like clockwork. Literally so, in fact, with keys sprouting forth from almost everything in Stanley's life, with one exception: the pretty girl outside.

Though it's not the only film in EIFF's Animation strands to have actual actors, Stanley Pickle modifies their appearance quite differently to Tussilago. Not rotoscoped, more stuttered, a sort of staccato stepped-motion. It suits the cog and gear nature of Stanley's existence well. Director Victoria Mather has hit upon a winning technique.

One of several NFTS films shown at the 2010 Edinburgh International Film Festival, Stanley Pickle won the McLaren Animation award. In good company, it was undoubtedly helped by crisp execution.

The story is small, though its implications are significant. For a short to have been through as many writers as this is a little surprising, but the story from Keaton Henson (who does the Dananananakroyd covers) and Mather was turned into a script by Orhan Boztas. It's hard to identify an individual talent in that context, but there's no real need to - everyone here does well.

Drew Caiden as Stanley has a charming smile, and when he pulls the lever in his bedroom it turns into a maniacal grin with remarkable ease. Nadia Morgan (a company member at the National Theatre) and Gareth Brierley (another stage type turned playwright and author) are good as his mum and dad. Brierley injects enough character to make his performance about more than a Wallace (of Gromit) style grin. Comparative film and TV veteran Haruka Abe (in BBC3's Ideal as Miko) is captivating as 'Bluebell', the mysterious stranger watched from the upstairs window.

At times despite the lush pastel colouration, Stanley Pickle feels decidedly old-fashioned. No bad thing, with Jean-Marc Petsas' music and Dario Swade's sound design saving it from feeling like a silent movie - the jerky action aside, it's a straightforwardly touching tale. Recognition must also go to Kassi Koufaki, whose CGI and SFX work means that despite its fantastic elements Stanley's story doesn't feel false.

If there is a weakness to the film it's that it's somewhat independent of history. We're left to guess a few things, and while how we came to be in the situation doesn't matter, as in Mondo's Quest For The Sun some questions are left unanswered and hanging. That's really just grumbling, as perhaps are concerns that despite its appearance Stanley Pickle is more a short film using animation techniques than animation purest. In this day and age, however, with films like A Scanner Darkly and Avatar blurring the lines, that probably doesn't matter. What does, ultimately, is how well any film achieves what it sets out to do. By that measure Stanley Pickle is finely machined, put together with a clocksmith's care, and entertaining too.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2010
Share this with others on...
A mysterious girl turns a man's carefully ordered life upside down.
Amazon link

Director: Victoria Mather

Year: 2010

Runtime: 11 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2010

Search database:

If you like this, try:

Edward Scissorhands