A lovely story about escaping one’s situation for something brighter, Canary switches up its light-hearted tone for something all the more serious and never misses a step in doing so. A gorgeous and affecting short film.
In 1922, a young boy named Sonny worked in an underground coal mine with a group of adult miners. He takes care of the caged canary, which the men use to detect deadly methane gas. Hoping to escape the dark and dank underground, the boy teaches his bird to play dead. Yet inevitably, this prank goes tragically wrong.
First and foremost, Canary is gorgeous; there is nothing that can take away from how this film looks. It comes across as a Pixar short that isn’t afraid to show its teeth and threaten to bring tears to the eyes. We feel the gut-punching moments thanks to the animation at hand; when Sonny realises what has happened, we feel even minuscule movement on his face. This isn’t something that is easy to accomplish.
It takes confidence to allow Canary to take the turn that it does; directors P-H Dallaire and Benoit Therriault could have very easily kept the film light with maybe just a hint of danger. Instead, they take a jarring approach that equally surprises as well as affects you to become a fascinating 12 minutes of dialogue-free cinema.
Sonny wants to be free from working in the mine, and if he can bring his canary with him, then all the better. He, like his canary, wants to be in the open air, to feel the breeze, to experience life. Not to be trapped in a place of darkness and fear. You feel for them both, and their cute interactions together lead you into a false sense of security. So, when the other shoe drops, and boy does it drop, it gets you in the chest.
In the end, Canary is a wonderful triumph of a film, a gorgeous animation that isn’t afraid of those dark places; a must-watch.
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