Also, they are mice.
I saved that tidbit for last because the film never makes a point of underscoring it. Frankly, it doesn’t seem to matter much. Instead, you find yourself more focused on their faces and how soulful they look as they share a forbidden passion and an experience with grief and loss. The overall physicality of these characters becomes less and less noticeable as the film goes on. Of course, it actually does matter that they’re mice, but rarely in the moment.
Self tells the story as visually as she can, with minimal dialogue. The editing is full of beautiful visual links that tie the past and present together as the film drifts between the two. The design of the film gives the viewer a sense of a dark and dreary cityscape and populated by characters in trench coats, some of whom have companions, others searching for a place to feel safe. The confined apartments provide little relief.
Self’s film is a beautiful and aching piece that showcases two strong performances from its vocal cast as well as the mice we look at, which, we often forget are the work of many animators working many hours to get it right. I suppose when you don’t notice the animation, that’s sometimes when it works best, and “The Fabric of You” works wonders in unexpected ways. (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 depicts 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 morphs the lines between fiction and non-fiction, fantasy, and reality.
After reading the novel I wanted to explore these ideas further and write a story about grief with an animal as its vehicle. For the setting of the film, I took inspiration from Will Eisner’s epic graphic novel A Contract with God, which revolves around a poor New York City tenement.