A Year in Shorts Day 95: "Mr Hublot"
Mental illness has not had a great history of representation in film, and that’s putting it lightly. When the mentally ill aren’t being stigmatized as villains, their conditions are downplayed as cute quirks or treated like fodder for a generically inspiring story. Portrayals of OCD are especially bad for this. And while I certainly can’t speak on behalf of people with that condition, I think Mr Hublot, at the very least, does a better job than most.
Mr Hublot is a 2013 film directed by Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares. It's a Luxembourgish/French co-production, so you can feel fancy when you're watching it. It tells the story of the titular Mr Hublot, a steampunk cyborg in a steampunk world (in a way, aren't we all?), who lives alone in his little apartment. Everything changes when he decides to rescue a robot dog and give him a home, only to discover that his new living companion brings more chaos to his life of order than he had anticipated.
Mr Hublot is a very cute short, full of heart and European whimsy. If you're a fan of that sort of thing (or if you like shorts about cute dogs), you'll almost certainly like this. While the animation may not be as polished as the shorts Disney and Pixar were releasing around this time, Mr Hublot more than makes up for it with its style and aesthetic. A lot of love has been put into the production design, with some of the props being impressively intricate. The character animation is good too, with the titular character managing to express a lot of emotions with very little. If you're not into steampunk it probably won't do anything for you, but the whole short has this delightfully lived-in look that I really like.
And the music (which we don't often discuss around here) is great, too. The score by François Rousselot is very nice (if, perhaps, a tad generic), and the two original songs performed by Li-lo (an artist so obscure they don't even have a Wikipedia page) are particularly lovely. Lilo's voice is nice, and the whole thing has a sound which appeals to me. I know even less about music than I do about animation, so the best I can say about it is that it reminds me of the sort of obscure song I'd discover on one of my favorite Pandora stations. I know that doesn't mean a lot to you, but trust me, it's a compliment!!! It all comes together to complement a nice short about a man learning to make room in his life for love and companionship without having to compromise his own sense of ease. Which I think is pretty nice.
And so, it seems, does the Academy. Mr Hublot won the Oscar the year it was nominated, beating out Disney's entry that year, Get a Horse! And while I think Get a Horse! is the better short (it's funnier and the concept is more clever), I don't think we should begrudge Mr Hublot the win. It's nice when the little guy wins the day, don't you think?
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"Mr Hublot" is available to watch on Amazon Prime
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