"The Painting": What Everyone on the Other Side of the Canvas Is Really Doing

Even if you watch the English-dubbed version rather than the subtitled one, there's no denying the fundamental Frenchness of Jean-François Laguionie's beautiful and thought-provoking animated film The Painting — and that's not a bad thing, since animated American films on similar themes tend to end up like Shane Acker's overblown 9. Within a certain painting in a certain studio in The Painting, a class system exists: Allduns are fully rendered figures, living in opulence and rouged cheeks; Halfies are not quite finished, with some color and definition but not as much as the Allduns; and Sketchies are just what they sound like, and are rather bitter about their lot in life. All three societies are aware that they are figures in an unfinished painting, and they're all wondering the same thing — why did the Painter abandon them? The mystery only deepens when Lola the Halfie, Ramo the Alldun, and Plume the Sketchie explore just what's happening beyond the frame. In addition to being inventive and colorful, The Painting also considers just what the heck God's deal is, and if He even matters in the long run. American kids should see The Painting, whether they pick up on those themes or not — but if it inspires them to ponder, so much the better.

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