Model Behaviour (2004) – movie review

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Movie Review by Vivienne Messenger

Directors: Pjotr Sapegin; Adam Elliot

Animated shorts that feature in MODEL BEHAVIOUR are:

Pjotr Sapegin:
SNAILS (2000)
ARIA (2001)

Adam Elliot:
UNCLE (1996)
COUSIN (1998)
BROTHER (1999)

MODEL BEHAVIOUR is a collection of clay/plastercine model animation shorts as detailed above from two directors: Pjotr Sapegin, a Russian now living in Norway and Adam Elliot, an Australian. Aimed at adults, Adam Elliot’s stories seem to follow a similar vein of family members and the various ailments and trials that life throws at them while Pjotr Sapegin’s stories are more ingenious and fabricated with unusual twists.

In Adam Elliot’s collection of shorts an interesting message in UNCLE is that as the uncle struggles through life’s ups and downs he comes to the conclusion that “life can only be understood backwards but we have to live it forwards”. HARVIE KRUMPET, which at a running time of 23 minutes is considerably longer than the other shorts, starts off with the premise: “Some are born great, some have greatness thrust upon them, and then there are others… Narrated by Geoffrey Rush, Harvie Krumpet and his family seem to suffer more than their fair share of hardships and health problems. In fact health problems feature predominantly in Adam Elliot’s shorts and cover Tourette’s syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, cerebral palsy and poisoning amongst others. This makes for a fairly heavy, morose mood as his characters fall victim to bullying, insanity, suicide, being frozen to death – need I go on… Burdened by all these heavy doses of life’s trails there are a few tribulations when the mood lightens and brief rays of light or hope appear.

Though subtitled in English Pjotr Sapegin’s collection of shorts I found more artistically interesting and usual with an unexpected twist to them. ONE DAY A MAN BOUGHT A HOUSE is about a man with a lady rat in his house and is a tale about the man’s quest to exterminate this vermin from his dwelling but has an odd, upbeat and feel good twist at the end. SNAILS follows a young female snail, Kajsa, who is determined to own a dog as a pet! Almost along the lines of a modern day fable THE SALT MILL offers an intriguing theory as to how salt water originated while ARIA is a sadder tale of an oriental lady, her sailor lover, their love child and unrequited love that ultimately destroys the mother.

MODEL BEHAVIOUR will probably appeal more to fans of these two directors work and to film students who want to study model animation. Though the shorts are visually interesting the subject matter of Adam Elliot’s was delivered with deadpan realism in a monotonous manner apart from HARVIE KRUMPET, which is narrated by Geoffrey Rush. Pjotr Sapegin’s work held my attention far more and was the more entertaining of the two.

2 out of 6 stars