The Henhouse

The Henhouse


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The Hen House is a café where a hungry fox gets a job. It's also a beautiful piece of traditional animation, coloured and cut in a way that seems to jump past technique to just look good. With marvellous character design, lovely little background notes, even a good font, it's near perfect.

Anyone who has ever gazed longingly upon a stranger's cake will empathise with our vulpine protagonist. The café's patrons and the treatment received from them are note-perfect - comprehensively (if not quite comprehensibly) enunciated thanks to the effort of trumpet vocaliser Paul Fennel. Elena Pomares writes, directs, and deserves plaudits. This is touching and excellently executed, from the longing expressed by beady fox eyes to the ruffling of the proprietor's moustache. Toby Jackman's backgrounds also deserve attention, capturing the essence if not quite every detail of a metropolis encroaching upon the countryside. Paul Pringle's music is good, light and jazzy, the jauntiness a perfect match for the breezy style of the animation. The simplicity of line at times suggests the work of Saul Bass, and the score certainly pushes us in that direction. So too, in fact, the quality of the logo for The Henhouse, even the little curl of steam above the letter 'u'. At a hair over six and a half minutes The Henhouse feels just right - a little break, not too heavy, well judged. It's not just the fox that makes it feel like Roald Dahl might have written it; the story's turns are nicely done and there are places where Pomares' pen recalls Quentin Blake.

If it has a weakness it's that it's tantalisingly out of reach - as with any number of short films, animated or otherwise, it's often almost impossible to see outwith the festival circuit. While projects like Cinema 16 are pushing them out to DVD, sites like Vimeo and YouTube make some available online, and Virgin Media Shorts are showing them to some television audiences, cinema-goers are bound to a longer format - imagine science fiction without short stories, pop music without singles, Shakespeare without sonnets.

That it might be difficult to see, however, is no reason not to - even if you need to dig out a red coat and bugle, you should hunt down The Henhouse and watch it.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2010
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A hungry fox finds shelter from the city and the rain in the Hen House Cafe.
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Director: Elena Pomares

Year: 2010

Runtime: 7 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2010

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