Laura Stewart, an animation student at Concordia University, recorded her grandmother during the 2012 winter holidays. Of the many stories she heard about life on Prince Edward Island in Eastern Canada, ‘Just a Mess’ stood out.
Gentle banjo plucking is sprinkled behind this playful and charming claymation. The use of a folding map to tackle a set-design dilemma is an efficient and enjoyable solution.
Occasionally the animation is a little jerky, the character design a little simplistic and the illusion of life size scale is never quite achieved, however any short comings pale in significance when considering the kind humour and delightful ease of the story telling.
An extraordinary shot where the grandmother inhales fumes from the rotting skunk snouts stood out. The green wool tears its way up her nostrils as we watch at an uncomfortably close angle.
Although there is a slight flippancy regarding animal welfare issues, Stewart’s job was to merely represent her grandmother’s story and not drag the historical tale through a complex of contemporary ethics.