Fantastic Fest – Metropia

Metropia is an animated feature set in a European dystopian future (is there any other kind?).  People still live on the surface but apparently never travel there, instead using the huge interconnected subway system controlled by the Trexx corporation.  Roger has an indifferent life – working as a drone, his relationship on the rocks, etc.  His only step away from “normalcy” is enjoying bicycling instead of using the metro.  But apparently that’s enough – the voice in his head that tells him to buy Viagra and conform becomes jarring to him.  He thinks he’s going crazy until he sees the cover girl from the shampoo everyone uses, and starts to follow her around instead of going to work – this spirals him into a web of intrigue.  The movie recalls themes from Brazil and A Scanner Darkly.

The animation style is unique and weird.  People’s heads are large and facial features very realistic, but the rest of their bodies and the world are more stylized.  It fits the Kafkaesque feel they’re going for and allows for maximal expressiveness and acting on the part of the characters, a double win.

The plot is pretty interesting – turns out the ubiquitous Trexx Corp. has graduated from just putting cameras in everyone’s TV set to mind – if not control, influence – via their ubiquitous shampoo; they have a bank of call center type employees who can see through people’s eyes and speak into their minds.  Roger is never sure who to trust – his girlfriend, the shampoo cover girl he’s obsessed with, his “control” who talks into his head and looks disturbingly like him…  It’s a conspiracy thriller about control and perception.  I liked it quite a bit, as I did the somewhat similarly themed (and also weirdly animated, though in a completely different style) A Scanner Darkly.  It’s director Tarik Saleh’s first movie and as a freshman outing I think it’s amazing.

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