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V&F: Film Review

Michelle R Arthur directs a 2D animation about the fraught relationship between a vine named Vernell and Frank the fence. Hinged on tongue-and-cheek wordplay, this film shows the delicate dance between pursuer and distancer.

Michelle R Arthur voices Vernell, a clingy vine eager to find connection and Jeff Vernon voices Frank, a cold metal fence who flirts without connecting. When Vernell grows beyond the fence, the attachment no longer remains with the fence.

V&F presents a straightforward metaphor for how a relationship ebbs and flows, and how it can be difficult to break certain patterns of attachment, and move on. Vernell gets attached quickly, and Frank starts to feel suffocated. It’s a relatable experience to many in a strained relationship that don’t have secure attachment.

The animation is simple, with minimal backgrounds, and less frames per movement. It has a charming, hand drawn aesthetic that feels personal. Vernell the vine and Frank the fence are represented with a female and male face, respectively. While it may fall into tropey representation of genders, showing the female as clingy and the male as aloof, the metaphor is effective at getting its point across.

Most of the storytelling happens through the radioplay, with some eye expression in the animation to match. It feels almost like a spoken word poem. Vernell comments on how she must constantly grow and therefore she is never satisfied while Frank comments on how he is cold and prone to rust if squeezed too tight. These clever turns of phrase offer it poetic charm.

The short shines most in its relationship conceit. It feels personal to the creator Michelle R Arthur, and it just goes to show that everyday things can be the inspiration for a story if you tune into your environment and translate it into your art.

In March 2021, V&F won Best Animation at Top Shorts.

About the artist:

Michelle Renee Arthur hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, with English, Irish, Scottish, German, and Cherokee ancestry. She exhibited a passion for acting at age 6. Inspired by her uncle, a former Columnist for the LA Times, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University's School of Journalism. She also studied at UCLA, Actors Edge Studios, Artist Theatre Group, and Playhouse West Studio 4.

Michelle enjoys being in front of the camera or behind the scenes of a set. She completed her first script in 2015, registered with the WGA, and has become involved in producing various film projects.


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