Late Afternoon (2017)
Director: Louise Bagnall
Screenwriter: Louise Bagnall
Starring: Louise Bagnall, Fionnula Flanagan, Aislin Konings Ferrari, Michael McGrath, Niamh Moyles, Caoimhe Ní Bhrádaigh, Lucy O’Connell
Louise Bagnall’s delicately told tale of an elderly woman rediscovering old memories through a series of triggers in Late Afternoon is wholesome, empathetic animated cinema told with a true compassion and understanding towards the largely underrepresented demographic of the suffering elderly and their loved ones; a gorgeous film with astute storytelling nous and a beautifully designed storybook style of animation.
This Irish based, Cartoon Saloon produced, Oscar nominated short animation is a triumph. The story alone is worthy of a tear or two, the best of us reduced to rubble by the very idea that we may one day lose our entire identity to a disease like Alzheimer’s, but the way the story comes to life through its animation and score in particular is even more moving, as well as altogether more beautiful.
Late Afternoon wastes little time in diving (quite literally) into the action, introducing us to the concept through a broken piece of biscuit that dives into its elderly protagonist Emily’s cup of tea and thus reminds her of a childhood memory from a day she spent at the beach. As well as quickly introducing its concept in a clear and well defined manner, this introduction plants the seeds for the emotional journey to follow and importantly leaves room for the meat of its story to come to the fore at a natural, enticing pace worthy of handing yourself over to.
The pacing of Late Afternoon is truly one of its greatest assets, the momentary flashbacks swirling like the animated voids in Emily’s mind and then plunging back into a contemporary reality she isn’t all too familiar with in a manner that never loses sight of the central concern of the piece – the loss of one’s self. Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s work on the score does a lot to shape this, his composition being as delicate as the subject matter itself as it gently nudges emotion from each on-screen discovery until its crescendo brings to life the very peak of this short’s narrative journey. The marriage between animated shorts and their scores is always paramount to their reception, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better marriage than this one, an astonishing piece of music that matches each of Late Afternoon’s narrative beats and subtly raises the entire project in the process.
A truly moving concept told with compassion and delicacy through creative, beautifully designed animation, Late Afternoon gently squeezes your heart through empathy for a situation not often tackled by cinema and uses its score to bring out a rush of emotion topped with just a dash of life affirming hope. This is a truly phenomenal piece of art and a more than deserving Oscar contender.