Review: Laika & Nemo

Written and directed by Jan Gadermann, co-directed by Sebastian Gadow, Nemo looks different, nobody else wears a diving suit and a helmet that big. But then he meets Laika, an astronaut and with her help, Nemo becomes more self-confident and learns how old wounds can be healed through new friendships.

After no time at all you can appreciate how fantastic the animation is in Laika & Nemo. There will always be an extra special quality reserved for stop-motion, it adds that additional injection of love. It holds an immediate charm and the directorial style lands somewhere between the beloved films of Cartoon Saloon and Aardman Animation. It’s colourful, energetic and has a touch of the quirky while providing a beautifully wholesome atmosphere. There’s a wonderful level of detail to the aesthetic which brings an imaginative air and a great deal of character.

The story then adds to that with a feel of loneliness but the most interesting aspect is that the tone has a much larger range than you might expect. Films of this style often remain in an adorably sweet arena but with Laika & Nemo, Jan Gadermann brought through a touch of extra realism. With the almost extreme consequences of the story and with the key theme of being the outsider or outcast. It creates a wider appeal, touching upon typical adult frustrations with daily life and how the heavy weight of an unhappy childhood can burden someone for years to come. It’s a familiar tale but Gadermann adds his own fresh spin to it.

It also holds a surprising amount of tension, there’s a big sincerity beneath its sweet visual. It moves with a genuine sense of curiosity, which is a key factor when centring on the classic character stuck in a small town. Splitting it into both their perspectives was another great choice to make their connection even stronger. It’s paced very well to be able to really take its time but never feel slow, it draws you in then just gradually wraps itself around you.

Laika & Nemo is a wonderful piece of stop-motion animation which simultaneously feels original and familiar of a lot of adored animated films. It’s intensely sweet but cuts that with a touch of tension and very sincere emotion. It’s vibrant, imaginative, creative and beyond charming, the sort of short that would brighten anyone’s day.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½ | 9/10

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