Blood Tea and Red String‘s greatest innovation is not the blood tea a group of rodents sip during a game of cards or the red string a spider with the face of a woman uses to encircle its prey, but a castle’s fountain water, which writer-director Christiane Cegavske conveys using what appears to be some form of plastic wrap. You could say that the only pleasure of this bloodless stop-motion animation, about aristocratic mice and fox-like animals with beaks for mouths vying for ownership of a raggedly handmade doll, are the finer points of its director’s many tableaus. When the doll with pubic-like tresses is stolen by the mice, the Creatures Who Dwell Under the Oak launch a reconnaissance mission that almost ends in disaster when the animals eat Play-Doh berries whose hallucinogenic effects draw the animals into the jaws of carnivorous flora. Saved by a frog magician who feeds the plants autopsied hearts, the creatures go on to retrieve their doll, but not without loss: The egg that was stitched into the doll’s stomach a day earlier hatches shortly before the doll could be saved, releasing into the wind a blue bird with a face not unlike that of its surrogate mother’s. In a word, crazy, but while Cegavske’s craft, like her contributions to Asia Argento’s spastic The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, is nothing if not painstaking, her story unravels dispassionately, and with zero sexual innuendo—an arbitrary string of strange happenings that starve for subtext. The mice use money as leverage in one scene, recalling a similar scene from Jiri Barta’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, only there is a clearer grasp in Barta’s sinister masterpiece of people’s thirst for dominance. Here, we don’t even get a sense of why the story’s crucial dolly is the bane of everyone’s existence.
- 69 min
- Christiane Cegavske
- Christiane Cegavske
- Linda Hagood, Bella, Blue
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