Marcel the Shell and Big Emotions (even if you’re only one inch tall)

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is a 2022 indie stop motion animated film directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp and produced by A24, based on the trilogy of short films on YouTube by the same name. The film as of writing this sits at a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and deservedly so. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On is a poignant and poetic film about appreciating even the smallest things in life and dealing with your emotions.

The film is a fictional documentary focused on the a one inch tall shell by the name of Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) and his Nana Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini) and their daily life around the house. Marcel in his interviews with Dean (played by the director himself, Dean Fleischer-Camp) talks about wanting to find his family whom were tragically lost in “the accident” one night, never to be seen again, he talks about his emotions and how he processes them being an innocent and wholesome character, lending a new perspective on the world.

The film builds onto Marcel’s small world, gathering fruit from the trees with a stand mixer, sleeping on a slice of bread as a king sized bed in his “bread”room, using a raisin as a beanbag, skating on a dusty coffee table like it’s snow, and more. The film is filled with all kinds of just adorable tiny moments with Marcel and Nana.

The lighthearted and wholesome nature of the script is not as simple and childish as it sounds, despite its surface level of comedy with Marcel being small and experiencing new things like the internet or driving in a car, he is an emotional shell that learns to grow up and understand his emotions better. The innocent yet emotional nature of Marcel’s personality allows the audience to connect and see the world through a more humorous and optimistic lens, appreciating the even the smallest of moments.

The script pairs well with the soundtrack, scored by Disasterpeace, the light bouncy nature of the soundtrack carries the film and layers onto the texture of the film giving it a whimsical yet still emotional journey.

The film at its emotional core is focused trying to seeing the beauty in everything from the leaves in the tree blowing in the winds to the small moments spent with those you love. Although moments of grief, anger, sadness and loneliness exist, to let them consume you is to lose sight of the beauty of their existence.

Marcel gives us this range of emotions throughout the film experiencing the loss of his family yet not allowing that to stagnate him, working to keep moving forward and appreciate what’s there.

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

The Trees” by Philip Larkin

The film is also about processing those moments of hardship and loss, knowing that eventually the ones you love will no longer be there is hard to think about. It’s not something you want to accept but know that you don’t have another choice. The connections you make though can be preserved by the memories you make with them though.

It’s hard to write about this film without spoiling it, and I really can’t sell it to you without just saying “watch the trailer” as the film is best experienced without spoilers, I will describe the film as so; it’s as if your soul was taken out of your body and washed by hand lovingly before being left to dry on a nice breezy sunny spring afternoon.

I have no real complaints about the film, it is one of the best films of this year, up there with my favorite film Everything Everywhere All At Once. If you can go watch it, go watch it as soon as possible, it is quite the emotional journey.


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