Emily Hubley's "The Toe Tactic" is a deeply personal fable that's bound to confound (or annoy) anyone outside the filmmaker's circle of intimates.

An aggressively whimsical mix of live-action and animation, Emily Hubley’s “The Toe Tactic” is a deeply personal fable that’s bound to confound (or annoy) anyone outside the filmmaker’s circle of intimates. Hubley, a vet animator whose work was showcased to better effect in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” assembles a disparate group of stage and screen notables to serve as vocal talents (Eli Wallach, Marian Seldes) and onscreen cast members (Mary Kay Place, indie auteur John Sayles). But their contributions do little to cut through the fog of an oddity unlikely to venture far beyond the fest circuit.

Narrative has something to do with Mona Peek (Lily Rabe), an aimless young woman still grieving the months-ago death of her father, and something else to do with animated critters (dogs, apparently, with a bossy fowl thrown in for good measure) that provide running commentary. The critters may be figments of Mona’s imagination — or, given their ability to manipulate real-world objects to steer her destiny, they may be observers from a parallel universe. Either way, it’s difficult to care, and easy to be confused. Tech values are adequate.

The Toe Tactic

Production

An Orchard Pictures production. Produced by Emily Hubley, Jen Small. Executive producers, David Raymond, Jason Orans, Brian Devine. Directed, written by Emily Hubley.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Andrj Parekh; editor, Ray Hubley; music, Yo La Tengo; animation, Hubley, Jeremiah Dickey. Reviewed at SXSW Film Festival (Spotlight Premieres), March 11, 2008. (Also in New Directors/New Films, New York.) Running time: 84 MIN.

With

Lily Rabe, Daniel London, Kevin Corrigan, Sakina Jaffrey, Ann Dowd, Mary Kay Place, John Sayles.
Voices: Eli Wallach, Marian Seldes, Andrea Martin, Don Byron, David Cross.
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