French Roast - Oscar Animated Shorts 2010 #3

Country: France
Director: Fabrice Joubert
Writer: Fabrice Joubert

Summary: A man sits in a French Cafe sipping coffee whilst trying to simultaneously avoid the attentions of a beggar and figure out how he is going to afford to pay for his drink.

French Roast has one of those fantastic visual styles that proves very hard to put your finger on. It is 3D rendering but it is of a sort that almost makes the characters look like a certain style of puppetry (think Postman Pat if you're in the UK). The end result isn't displeasing and the characters still hold all of the emotion of the story in their faces whilst also lending the visuals a kind of grubby nostalgia that is very welcome alongside the occasionally cold 3D models of today.

As a story French Roast really is everything you could ask for in a short. The narrative moves along at a sensible but fast pace, introducing a manageable number of characters, all of whom have their own individual ticks and symptoms which really make them stand out (witness the brilliant individualism of the OCD-like Beggar). The morality behind the tale that's told has been told before but when it's this well done it really doesn't matter.

Above all that, the thing that singles French Roast out as a great short film is its attention to detail. None involved characters move along the street in the background, the opening sequence which introduces us to the cafe where the entire film is set zooms in and out through a mirror, little props such as a broken light and a mop bucket are used to great hilarity to further the story. It really is a fantastic little film which makes you feel something towards its characters and still gives you a few chuckles a long the way. Top marks.

Must be relatively strong. The story has got everything The Academy normally looks for. Voice-acting is wisely kept to a minimum and there are enough opportunities for a decent outtake to show on Oscar night. Surely in with a chance and at least a nomination.

The film is available on YouTube (through another website) but it doesn't look like this is a version hosted or distributed by the filmmakers. Instead head over to the version hosted on their own website and watch it in cracking resolution through Quick Time.

NB: This version did jump a little when I first watched it, despite buffering fully and quickly. If that happens just try coming back to it at a different time: worked for me!

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