Moreover, they are mice.
I saved this tidbit for last because the movie never considers highlighting it. Frankly, that doesn’t seem to matter much. Instead, you find yourself more focused on their faces and their emotion as they share a forbidden passion and experience of grief and loss. The overall physicality of these characters becomes less and less noticeable as the film progresses. Of course, it does matter that they are mice, but rarely at the time.
Self tells the story as visually as she can, with minimal dialogue. The montage is full of beautiful visual ties that tie the past and present as the film drifts between the two. The design of the film gives the viewer an impression of a dark, dreary cityscape populated by characters in trench coats, some of whom have companions, others in search of a place to feel safe. The confined apartments offer little relief.
Self’s film is a beautiful, painful piece that features two strong performances from its vocal cast as well as the mice we watch, which we often forget are the work of many animators who work countless hours to get it right. I guess when you don’t notice the animation sometimes that’s when it works best, and “The Fabric of You” does wonders unexpectedly. (Note: this short is really not for kids).
Q&A with director Josephine Lohoar Self
How did this film come about?
Three years ago I read the critically acclaimed graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. In it, Speigelman portrays his father’s experience as a Holocaust survivor, where all the Jewish people are portrayed as mice and the Germans as cats. It is drawn in a highly stylized postmodern style and transforms the lines between fiction and non-fiction, fantasy and reality.
After reading the novel, I wanted to dig deeper into these ideas and write a story about grief with an animal as a vehicle. For the decor of the film, I was inspired by the epic graphic novel by Will Eisner A contract with God, which revolves around a poor New York apartment building.