Director: Saschka Unseld
Plot: On a rainy, crowded street, two umbrellas lock eyes and instantly fall in love, despite circumstances conspiring against them.
As this short, seven minute film opens up, we are treated to a shot so impressive, it is hard to believe that it is even animation. As some of the more personified objects come to life, the fun animation we expect from a Pixar short kicks in, but the backdrop could have been a live action scene. Director Saschka Unseld uses new tricks in the CGI department with photorealistic lighting, composition and shading. It creates a remarkable handful of shots that aren’t even the main focus of this film.
The main focus is, expectedly, a little blue umbrella. As the audience is treated to a sea of black, plain umbrella, one blue face shines through the monotony, a quirky, amusing face etched onto his features. Before long, a second umbrella, this one red and female, appears next to him, also making her way through the crowds. Their eyes meet and the attraction there is instant. As the blue umbrella struggles to summon up to courage to introduce himself, their respective owners move along and they are lost in the crowd. The umbrella needs to use some cunning if he is ever going to get the girl…
This little umbrella, or more specifically Pixar, will have you in the palm of their hands for the next few minutes. This premise would sound awful if it wasn’t for the fact that we know how Pixar can handle a story. As expected, we end up caring for these inanimate objects more than we really should. Our hearts are in our mouths for most of the action, especially as the umbrella puts himself at serious risk. Anyone familiar with Pixar won’t consider it a spoiler, if I reveal that there is a happy ending. And when that happy ending hits, you will be grinning from ear to ear as the end credits start rolling.
The streets literally come to life thanks to Pixar’s detailed skill with animation. Drainpipes and mailboxes are all given grins and more personality than every character in Die Hard 5 put together. They are all used to precision and as each new character is introduced with little more than a cheeky smile, we find ourselves chuckling. This is what Pixar do best: make a story out of nothing and somehow make it hard-hitting and engaging. Kids especially will never look at their neighbourhood street in the same way again.
It doesn’t stop there. The score is beautiful, finding music that will stick in your head for the rest of the day. Sarah Jaffe performs vocals (if you can call them vocals, as no words are actually used) beautifully, never getting in the way of the film and lightning the mood, when it is needed. It is just another testament to how brilliant and holistic a Pixar movie can be. These guys will never stop amazing me. The only trick they missed here was having a yellow umbrella as the leading lady, a reference to ‘How I Met Your Mother’.
Final verdict: Beautiful, moving and precise: everything we expect from a Pixar short film.