Director: Cleto Acosta-McKillop
Screenwriters: Cleto Acosta-McKillop, Quinn Blackshere, Loretta Keresen, Christian Acosta-McKillop
The world is a dark and forbidding place at times, and there seems little room for fun. When films like Kintsugi show up, therefore, the world can seem a little bit brighter and a little more refreshed. A beautiful and heartfelt animated short tackling the theme of embracing imperfections, Kintsugi tells the story of a lucky cat outside a business, welcoming people in. The cat suddenly feels threatened when a new, fancy, neon-flashing modern lucky cat becomes the mascot of the new place-to-be next door.
Wonderfully animated (all on Photoshop, as well, which goes to show that it’s not the equipment that matters), the contrasting worlds of the traditional and the modern epitomise the cultural melting pot that much of the modern world finds itself in today, and provides a perfect backdrop for the story. It is a world in which finding oneself, and being comfortable with that, is as much a key to happiness and self-worth as tangible assets. The score from Sergio de la Puente, which switches between traditional instrumentation and orchestral work on one side and a calm synth on the other side, is perfectly keyed and mixed.
With no dialogue, everything must be told with visuals, and the film manages to do just that. Keeping it very simple, the cat is incredibly expressive, a character everyone can find themselves relating to. The visuals and concepts will appeal to younger audiences, and yet older viewers will find the emotional threads all too relevant. The most relevant part of the film, perhaps, is that there is no antagonist. There is no bad guy to be defeated, no big evil to overcome. The villain is the cat itself, its crippling doubts, its anxieties which lead to it trying to be someone it is not, to copy oneself when they see them. This false emulation of others, so pertinent to our lives today, and perhaps forever, gives the film a timeless quality.
Most of the beats of the story are well timed and the pacing is managed effectively. However, the ending feels a little rushed, and the final image (the most important in the film) doesn’t have long enough to make as deep an impact as it could. Another fifteen to twenty seconds or so, showing the eventual impact of the actions in the final moments, would properly tie things together in a more meaningful, cathartic fashion. Aside from this, we should be praising Kintsugi for providing a beautiful little original animation destined to win over any viewer in a split second. Kintsugi is a wonderful creation.