859. The Pearce Sisters – Luis Cook

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SUMMARY: On a bleak, windswept island where it is perpetually raining, two sister, Edna and Lol Pearce, eke out a harsh existence catching, gutting and smoking fish. When they rescue a drowning man, he gets an unpleasant glimpse of their unusual world.

WHY IT’S HERE: Luis Cook’s ‘The Pearce Sisters’ was made for Aardman Animation, a name that can’t help but evoke images of Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep. It took many people by surprise then that this BAFTA winning short is so grim and unpleasant. Anyone with a knowledge of Aardman that goes beyond Nick Park however, will be well aware that the studio has often dabbled in black comedy and dark subject matter in films such as ‘Babylon’ or ‘Loves Me… Love Me Not’. In its insistent bleakness, ‘The Pearce Sisters’ perhaps goes a step further but this is an extremely effective short in capturing an atmosphere and its central characters are far more than the monstrous grotesques that the film’s critics have suggested. Rather, we see here the effects of isolation on two sisters whose ugliness has doubtless played a part in them being lifelong outcasts. In creating a strange version of civilised society, they have been resourceful and inventive, if also overstepping what most would consider the bounds of acceptability. Cook has created an unforgettable world here and you can feel the bitterness of the sweeping wind and lashing rain. There’s also an intriguing depth to the characters of the sisters, who have a clear humanism even as their actions are viewed as monstrous by outsiders. It is this fascinating juxtaposition, as well as Cook’s terrific art style, that make this film so worthy of note.

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