SUMMARY: Angela attends couples therapy where she becomes involved in the story of Dan and Mary, a man who has shrivelled as his wife has grown ever larger.
WHY IT’S HERE: Chris Landreth’s ‘The Spine’ takes a concept that Landreth created in his Oscar-winning masterpiece ‘Ryan’ and runs with it. That concept is showing people’s mental states in their physical appearances. ‘The Spine’ takes place in couples group therapy, where the attendees all have a symbolic physical deformity, such as large flaps of skin hanging from their foreheads or, in the case of Dan, an almost entirely shrivelled body. Dan lives in the shadow of his wife Mary, constantly apologising as she denigrates him. When Mary leaves him, Dan flourishes, growing a brightly coloured spine and regaining his stature. But as Angela looks deeper into their relationship, she sees that it is not the one-sided mentally abusive nightmare that it at first appeared to be. Clever, sad and deeply moving, ‘The Spine’ shows how far Landreth’s writing has come since his self-referential debut ‘The End’. The animation is, as always, fantastic, with human characters who are both realistic and stylised in their appearances.