ground, it is like George Orwell’s Oceania. Below ground, it is like Zion in Matrix: Revolutions, except this is a
better film. It is easy to tell them apart, because the polarity of gravity is
different for each. Yet, two young people will try to bridge the gap in Yasuhiro
Yoshiura’s Patema Inverted (trailer here), which screens
during the 2014 New York International Children’s Film Festival.
who live above are pulled down, whereas those who live below are pushed up.
Obviously, whenever the latter leave their underground warrens, they run the
risk of floating out of the atmosphere. Nevertheless, their princess, Patema,
has the compulsion to explore, much like her missing and presumed dead father
figure, Lagos. Oddly enough, something similar happened to surface-dweller Age’s
father. He invented a flying machine
that went up, but never came down.
his father’s son, Age is out of step with the Aiga police state, so he
instinctively protects Patema when she strays too far into his world. However,
he is no match for the evil overlord Izamura’s secret police. With Patema
captured, Age seeks refuge below ground, learning first-hand what is like to
live an upside-down existence.
Inverted has the trappings of dystopian
science fiction, it is really more of fantasy at heart. Much of what transpires
would be difficult to explain scientifically, so Yoshiura hardly bothers. Sure,
some scientific experiment tampered with gravity way back when, but that is
just the opening premise. Inverted opens
up into a big, cosmic canvas, where up and down are never constant. Frankly, it
might be one of the most dizzying films ever made—and it is in good old
Yoshiura’s excellent Time of Eve, Inverted is built around a high concept,
but it does not have the same human touch as his prior NYICFF selection (which
is an ironic thing to write, considering Eve
is all about human-android interaction). Patema and Age are plucky and
likable, with psychologically complex backstories, but they still are not as
fully realized characters as those in Eve.
Of course, Yoshiura set the bar really high in that film.
Still, by big budget animation standards, Inverted is quite thoughtful and
engaging. It would make an interesting double feature with Cuarón’s Gravity, while Eve could be nicely paired up with Jonze’s Her. Easily recommended for its rich visuals and idealistic
sensibilities, Patema Inverted screens
again Saturday March 22nd at the SVA Theater, as the 2014 NYICFF continues
over the next three weekends at venues throughout Manhattan. Future screenings
will include the absolutely charming AninA
and the appealing Annie: It’s a Hard Knock Life.
Labels: Animated films, Dystopian Cinema, Japanese Cinema, NYICFF '14