Sunday, 22 January 2017


Robert Valley's neo-noir Pear Cider and Cigarettes belatedly sets a standard for others to follow, yet itself can do little but follow all those others. The reduction of everything into genre tropes yields unusually cogent, thematically and stylistically concordant results, but this short animation is hobbled by fundamental errors that too often evade the attention of the artist and their audience alike. Pear Cider and Cigarettes is good noir, edgy and engaging, making fine affective use of its narrative scheme, but it also refuses to expand upon noir templates, even in its singular aesthetic approach. Valley's animation is vivid and striking, and his direction boldly inventive; if the film's brevity makes it tolerable, its visuals make it watchable. And then its misogyny makes it reprehensible - among all the forgivable errors herein, it's this simple failure to transcend one rancid, dated, indeed optional feature of this genre that repeatedly demeans the effectiveness of Valley's work. It's easily overlooked, since, as per, Pear Cider and Cigarettes is largely unconcerned with its female characters, but that's only another symptom of its ignorance. A dazzling work is dragged down by this one conceptual misstep, though it remains a dazzling work nonetheless - whether in the beguiling neons and monochromes of Valley's Photoshop creations, or in his charming, cheeky way with storytelling, there's much to enjoy in Pear Cider and Cigarettes.