Wednesday, November 27, 2013
A man stands on a train station. One of his papers is blown out of his hands into the face of a woman, and her lipstick remains on the document. The two chuckle, but part ways. The man spots the woman one morning in the neighboring building, and throws thousands of paper planes in order to make her notice, but fails. He gets out on the street, but the paper planes come to life and help him meet the woman again.
There's a certain time span into the storyline when you know a movie is a masterpiece. John Kahrs "Paperman" has one of the fastest time spans to get there: already some ten seconds into the film - when a document of the hero is blown into the woman's face, and as he retrieves it he finds out she "kissed" it by inadvertedly leaving a smooch on the paper - it manages to reach the highest level of awe, sympathy and simple wit. Unfortunately, that high level is not kept for the rest of the story and it seems we are watching a film slowly disintigrate as its running time goes on: the second act, of the man throwing paper-planes out the window, is very good, but a lot weaker, whereas the finale unfortunately derailed into a silly fantasy where the paper-planes come to life and bring the couple together, which is naive kitsch. Even though its momentum is falling down fast, like a slide, "Paperman" is overall still a quality short, executed almost without any dialogues and stylish black-and-white cinematography, and as such it is a valuable example of a sweet, charming animated romance in the US.