Let’s talk about writer and director Timothy Reckart’s Head Over Heels. This was one of the Academy Award nominees for animation short. And while it didn’t win, I personally feel it was better than the one that did - Disney’s Paperman, a film which I am still not sure how to talk about.
I really appreciate that the characters in this film feel real. They have personality outside of a stereotype, and they aren’t characters we see all of the time. I like that they are older and are dealing with a problem that, while fantastical, still has its roots in a common issue. I love that they feel substantial: even the former ballerina has weight and presence. I liked this movie.
Having said that, I didn’t love it. Something feels off about it, although it took me a while to figure out what. It took a conversation with am the younger to figure it out.
We recognize that the couple can’t agree on which way is up represents that they have grown apart - changed so much they can’t even agree on the biggest of issues. And it’s kind of sweet that they figure out how to come to a common ground of sorts.
Here’s the thing. Having differing pulls of gravity is kind of a deal breaker. It represents the kind of problem that is so big, so insurmountable, that this couple literally can not stay together. The film has them compromise, but in a way that is both painful for her - trying to hold herself in shoes with nails in them will never be comfortable - and dangerous for him - one slip, and he’s lost to the fog forever. Neither are conducive to a continued happy relationship.
The first part of the film suggests that while they may have still been able to be reminded about how they once cared for each other, they weren’t happy and are well on their way to hating each other. Is it feasible to believe that the added tension of the “compromise” won’t eventually tear them even further apart?
To me, Head Over Heels would have been better served if it had been about the couple realizing that they were already so different, they could not save the relationship. It would have been stronger if it had been about a goodbye, poignant and sad, and starting over. It would have been eloquent and innovative. That’s a film that would have stuck with me.
But the Academy likes its happy endings in animation shorts. It is very unlikely that version of this film would have garnered any Academy Award attention.
And personally, I find that tragic.
"Head Over Heels - Timothy Reckart." Head Over Heels - Timothy Reckart. Accessed March 26, 2013. http://cargocollective.com/timreckart/Head-Over-Heels.
Head Over Heels. Directed by Timothy Reckart. 2012. Film.