Your Face (1987)

*. Is there any point digging deeper here? To look beyond the surface of things? Your Face is a short animated piece, an early example of what would become Bill Plympton’s signature style. A man croons of his lover’s face while his own face twists and bloodlessly deconstructs in various ways, the warping and the contortions providing a perfect visual counterpart to the vocals (“Your face is like a song”). It’s being sung by Maureen McElheron but then slowed by a 1/3 to give it a sense of wax melting as well as a more masculine cast.
*. So sound and image are drawn together in a hand-drawn choreographed dance. It’s inventive, funny, and at times even knowing, as when the face goes through metamorphoses hinting at various periods in the development of modern art. But then the face is swallowed by what seems to be the ground, with a loud gulp and a slurp of the lips during the end credits. As if to say there was really nothing to this but an exercise in bringing to life a sketch pad of studies of the human phiz. An accomplished diversion. So accomplished it would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award.
*. Is there a message to it though? I can read one into it. I think it’s having fun with how ridiculous we make ourselves in chasing after love. Like birds doing a dance or some other form of courtship ritual we sing a song or flutter our plumage in some way, with no idea of how silly it all seems from an objective point of view.
*. But is anyone listening? The song plays like a videogram or YouTube video addressed to some unnamed (and faceless) spectator. Perhaps we can imagine he’s singing to us. But whatever the intended audience we see the singer at the end being gulped down by what I’ve said seems to be the ground. But maybe it’s the film swallowing its own tail. Has the singer been looking in the mirror all this time, making faces while singing alone? Now that really would be tying himself in knots.

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