ANIMA is the mysterious short film that has recently landed on Netflix.
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the 15-minute art piece is a collaboration between the American filmmaker and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. The film includes music from the artist’s upcoming album of the same name, only what landed on Netflix is so much more than an extended music video.
The film begins with tired faces on the subway. Thom Yorke begins nodding off, along with the rest of the carriage. Heads jolt dramatically into the uncomfortable positions we adopt during our commute when we are struggling to stay awake. The sleepy dance is accompanied with a long introduction of bleeps and electronic drums. The mood of the ride to and from work is perfectly captured and the cinematography is flawless.
The film then extends into a three-part dream sequence. Thom makes eye contact with a beautiful woman on the train and begins searching for her so that he can return the case she left behind.
The story unravels like a silent movie, with exaggerated movements and cartoonish romanticism. The surreal 1920s style pulls us into a dreamlike state as we watch the romantic fantasy unravel.
The choreography throughout the film is superb. Each movement appears to be both forced and effortless at the same time, creating that disorientated space between deep sleep and being awake.
While all of the professional dancers are obviously incredible, Yorke’s own performance is particularly impressive. He effectively uses his body to convey the moody romanticism of the music, exploring a new mode of art to convey his inner self. It is utterly convincing and we are with him every step of the way.
Although this is a film review, we cannot avoid commenting on the sensational score that accompanies the cinematic dance. The soundtrack is made up of three songs from Yorke’s nine-track album and it is very much the driving force behind the film.
What starts off as anxious and jolted unfolds into something dreamier, even uplifting. While the former is very much the style we have come to expect from Thom Yorke, the latter offers a new and more romantic flavor, the musical equivalent of a happy ending.
ANIMA can thus be summarized as a pleasant, unexpected surprise. It convincingly tells a story we all know and pulls us into an uncanny state of a dreamlike quality.
While the film has successfully motivated us to listen to the rest of the album, it is also a stunning art piece in its own right. And Netflix is the perfect yet surprising platform for this surreal experiment.