You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fat, Bald, Short Man

Helmer Carlos Osuna uses reality-traced animation techniques resembling those Richard Linklater deployed for "Waking Life," but opts to go in a very different direction, in "Fat, Bald, Short Man."

Voices: Alvaro Bayona, Julio Medina, Jairo Camargo, Julio Medora, Fernando Arevalo, Ernesto Sandra Reyes, Nicolas Montero, Diego Cancino.

Helmer Carlos Osuna uses reality-traced animation techniques resembling those Richard Linklater deployed for “Waking Life,” but opts to go in a very different direction, in “Fat, Bald, Short Man.” Where Linklater explored high-flown ideas on a complex multi-voice soundtrack, Osuna creates a slow-paced story seen from one single subjective angle, placing his drawings in the service of greater intimacy. The pic’s limited-animation artistry and oversimplistic storyline complement each other to reinvent the familiar: the fragile existence of a shy, middle-aged virgin with low self-esteem constantly battered by family and co-workers. Modest pic could pleasantly surprise at fests.

For Osuna’s squiggly-outlined cartoon protagonist, Antonio Farfan (Alvaro Bayona), often offset against soft-focus live-action backgrounds, life consists of a series of greater or lesser humiliations. He’s the butt of constant teasing at his government notary job. At home, his gambling-addicted brother calls to badger him for money and mercilessly demeans him if he can’t cough up the “loan.” He even fails to assert himself when the restaurant where he regularly dines gets his order wrong.

But Osuna joins Antonio at several turnarounds in his hitherto isolated, uneventful life. Antonio is persuaded by a once-timid self-help guru to join a shyness-overcoming group. He befriends an elderly neighbor. His Dilbert-like office space is overhauled by a new boss who looks remarkably like him and values and encourages him. And a quiet, attractive woman joins the workforce at an adjoining desk. These developments foster positive changes in Antonio.

The supporting players possess just enough particularity and strangeness to register in dream-logical fashion. Antonio’s new boss miraculously appears as a government-sent guardian angel, while his neighbor unexpectedly turns paranoid, his fears assuming odd political configurations.

Admittedly, the film would come off as somewhat reductive if shot in live-action. But the minute-to-minute uncertainty of what will happen next serves to underline the film’s myriad surprises, while the abstraction of the drawings (faces amount to little more than black outlines, with simply rendered black dots and lines for features) breaks down and individuates every tiny action, intensifying the primacy of the moment.

Thus, Antonio’s transformation occurs not as forward-moving evolution but as a series of open-ended fluctuations, slowly inching him toward social interaction or else sending him scurrying back to old behaviors. He retreats and advances along his learning curve at his own eccentric rhythm, the viewer stuck on the same trajectory by the surreal quality of the animation.

Popular on Variety

Fat, Bald, Short Man


Production: A Global Lens release of a Malta Cine presentation and production in co-production with Cine-Sud Promotion. Produced by Juan Mauricio Ruiz, Carlos Osuna. Executive producers, Dean English, Francisco de Castro, Juan Marcio Ruiz, Carlos Osuna. Co-producer, Thierry Lenovel. Directed, edited by Carlos Osuna. Screenplay, Juan Mauricio Ruiz, Carlos Osuna, Carlos Andres Reyes. Camera (color), Yomayra Puentes, Guillermo Santos; music, Alejandro Quintero, Leonardo Bohorquez; art director, Marcela Rodriguez; sound, Diego Castillo; sound, Jean Guy Veran. Reviewed at Museum of Modern Art, New York, Jan. 28, 2012. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: Voices: Alvaro Bayona, Julio Medina, Jairo Camargo, Julio Medora, Fernando Arevalo, Ernesto Sandra Reyes, Nicolas Montero, Diego Cancino.

More Film

  • 4127_D015_00199_RC(l-r) Laura Carmichael stars as Lady

    Box Office: 'Downton Abbey' Beats 'Ad Astra,' 'Rambo: Last Blood' on Thursday Night

    “Downton Abbey,” the movie continuation of the hit TV series centering on the Crawley family, has won Thursday previews with $2.1 million from 2,800 North American locations. Meanwhile, Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” has launched with $1.5 million in previews, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: Last Blood” scooped up $1.3 million at nearly 2,900 [...]

  • Renee Zellweger'Judy' film premiere, Arrivals, Samuel

    'Judy's' L.A. Premiere: Renee Zellweger Takes Another Ruby Step Toward the Oscars

    Renée Zellweger continues to follow the yellow brick road to the Oscars. The Los Angeles premiere of Judy on Thursday night in Beverly Hills kept the Academy Award winner on track for a possible second win come February. “We’re just so happy we’re able to share it with you tonight,” Zellweger said to the crowd [...]

  • Benedict Andrews (L) and US actress

    Kristen Stewart on the 'Insane Gall' of Directors as 'Seberg' Arrives in San Sebastian

    SAN SEBASTIAN – On Friday, Kristen Stewart and Benedict Andrews’ political thriller “Seberg” plays at the 67th San Sebastian Film Festival, where it opens Perlak, a section dedicated to the Spanish premieres of major international films. The star and her director addressed the media prior to the screening in the festival’s first high-profile press conference, [...]

  • Les Miserables

    Ladj Ly's Cannes Prize-Winner 'Les Miserables' Is France's Oscar Submission

    Ladj Ly’s politically charged drama “Les Miserables,” which won the Jury Prize at Cannes, has been chosen by France’s Oscar committee to enter the international feature film race. In one of the most competitive years for French movies, “Les Miserables” beat out Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” the 18th-century-set romance which won [...]

  • David Kehrl neuer Head of Acquisitions

    'Resident Evil's' Constantin Names Acquisitions, International Co-Production Chief

    David Kehrl is to join Constantin Film, Germany’s leading independent movie producer and distributor, as the head of acquisitions and international co-production. He will report to Martin Moszkowicz, chairman of the executive board at Constantin Film, which produces the “Resident Evil” movies. Starting in February, Kehrl will be responsible for the acquisition of international theatrical [...]

  • The Plague Season 2 Spanish TV

    Telefonica, Atresmedia to Create Content Factory Behemoth

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — In a game-changing move for Spanish-language production Telefonica, Europe’s third biggest telco, and Atresmedia, the original co-creators of “La Casa de Papel,” are uniting to create a new joint contents production giant. Aimed at gaining more scale and uniting talent relations – writers, directors and producers – the 50/50 joint venture will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content