Brouhaha is an interesting animated tale that takes place in a factory. Good stuff.
Today’s film is the 2016 French experimental animated short drama Brouhaha by skilled director\animator Titouan Bordeau.
Brouhaha is set in a very nosy old world factory where two workers have a conversation about the previous day’s incident. It centers on a young man with a black eye and broken nose working diligently on sealing packages as an elder man comes to speak with him. The old man tries to gauge the man’s feelings as he talks about the bosses son and tries to make apologies for him telling the man how it was not easy to live up to being the bosses son and he was their mate. Thee man continues to work but lets the older man know in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t forgive or forget what happened and is still fuming over the fight. The old man informs the younger man that the bosses son is still their friend and he wants the new guy to be their friend as well and hopes he changes his mind as they didn’t want to ostracize the new employee and with that he returns to his own stations letting the man think it over.
Brouhaha is a very interesting concept piece that intentionally drowns out the voices of the characters to add realism to the fact they are working in a factory. It was made specifically for Titouan Bordeau to test his subtitle work as well as how to mask voices in his animated films while still managing to tell a complete and compelling story and in this the film succeeds brilliantly. As most people of a certain age knows factories were often hellish places that were very nepotism friendly work environments and the bosses son often got by with all manner of loathsome behavior. They were also quite often so loud they caused permanent hearing loss to it’s workers due to the massive machines working constantly around this. Brouhaha does a expert job showing these qualities off to the viewer in a very realistic way despite being a animated film.
On the subject of animation this film is very well drawn. It draws heavily on the use of darker colors such as brown and yellows to convey a sense of oppression and shows the downtrodden workers as cogs in a great machine. While the untrained observer might think that the animation work is simple in this film they reality is quite the opposite, yes it uses repetitious movement throughout the short run time but it just adds to the realism of the film as repetition is exactly what working in a factory is all about. The art style really reminds me of the old animated Lord of the Rings film with it’s dark tones and stark looking characters and really brings a sense of nostalgia to those of us who remember times before the flashy works of Anime and the bright colors of today’s animated shows. These characters show such emotion on their faces despite the fact that they are draw in such a minimalist way that it is easy for the viewer to understand their feelings as well as their motivations. It is clear that Titouan Bordeau not only is a expert animator but a cunning story teller and director as even though the film was made to test his subtitle work it tells a very complete story that actually makes you care about the characters despite the fact you can barely hear them at all, this is a truly impressive feat as normally when you can’t hear the characters your mind quickly loses interest these days.
The film also shines in the audio department. Yes I know I have already said that you can barely hear the characters speaking but this unlike other films is completely intentional. What is very prevalent is the sound of the machine press the nameless character is working beside, so much so in fact that it becomes a nearly tangible force in your ears. It sinks the viewer deeper into the story and allows you to become part of the story as you can truly appreciate what this grizzled men are going through. It is rare that the audio department manages to do this on it’s own but Brouhaha does it brilliantly. I don’t know how many films I have watched over the years that have simply left me as a spectator instead of truly allowing me to become part of the story and while this is all to common these days when a film really does bring you into it’s story it really makes you care more about the film and when it is done by the audio department it is all the more special.
When all said and done Brouhaha is a masterwork in animation and audio storytelling that manages to make the view truly invest in the story despite it’s short run time. If you like animated films that are much more subtle than action packed then at two minutes you won’t go wrong with the small independent French film. While not yet big in America I think Titouan Bordeau has good chance of bringing something unique to the independent film circuit and look forward to seeing more of his work in the future over on our side of the pond.