In 2017 body image issues among young adults are a very real problem, with unrealistic beauty standards for women and men plastered across billboards and the media in general. In the animated Face Lift, a new short from CalArts student Brian Kim, this phenomenon is tackled with oddly moving finesse.
In a world where humans have an extra head protruding forward from the more regularly-placed one, we see the birth of a boy who arrives into the world with a single head; becoming the object of intrigue, objection and finally ridicule.
Integral to the story’s core is the relationship between the boy and his father, a totem of solace from a cruel world replete with those scared of difference – here Kim is almost holding a mirror to our own societal unrest. Despite being a constant support for his son, the father is dealing with his own melancholy. In time we come to realise he’s all too aware of his offspring’s condition.
Across the short’s seven minutes we see the boy continue to be dealt bad hands while he struggles to create relationships, platonic and sexual. Though he’s marginalised, it’s his drive that gives life to such a small narrative. His willingness to brush himself off and get back up again, while still asking very human questions about existence, gives the short an emotional heft.
Entirely free of dialogue, the piece is filled with lo-fi, electronic string-work, decorated with percussive flourishes and wonky sound effects, creating left-field soundscapes to complement the surreal visuals.
Face Lift is a delicately-handled musing on how to be in a world where your face literally doesn’t fit. Despite its slightly bizarre premise, it’s sadly relevant and completely of the now; an intimate piece of work to mine strength from for anyone feeling they don’t quite belong.
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DIRECTOR: Brian Kim
ANIMATION: Brian Kim
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Brian Kim
EDITOR: Brian Kim
MUSIC: Jimmy Lee
SYNOPSIS: We follow a boy growing up in a world where his face doesn’t quite fit.