Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog

The Girl Without Hands

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on August 14, 2017 at 5:10 PM


Sébastien Laudenbach



IDEA:  A poor miller sacrifices his daughter to the devil so that he may receive bountiful wealth. The girl, deprived of her hands, journeys to find new life.

BLURB:  Consisting of loose, fluctuating strokes of line and color, the animation style of The Girl Without Hands expresses a world of profound tenuousness. Corporeal forms that should be solid waver and dissolve erratically; landscapes and objects flicker, splinter, and deliquesce with equal unpredictability. The film transpires with the sense that its representations could completely collapse at any moment, that the multiply intense feelings of peril that cause its lines to burst into paroxysms or temporarily disappear might just annihilate its mimetic integrity altogether. Both thrilling and terrifying, this visual impressionism-verging-on-chaotic abstraction conveys a liberating and destabilizing boundlessness no live action recording could replicate. Yet for all its emphasis on violability, The Girl Without Hands also exults in the fecundity of existence, in particular the procreative capacity of the female body. Subjugated by men and marked as lack by her physical impairment, the titular girl nevertheless stands as a resilient vessel of life in all its vibrant contingency. Laudenbach underscores her corporeality even as she loses definition, using his animation to suggest a process of becoming as much as one of fragmentation. The Girl Without Hands finds a singularly apt aesthetic to articulate this delicate liminality, a state of ongoing transition scary and beautiful at once.

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