20 July 2024

Short Film Review – Coin Operated (2017)

There is a nostalgic innocence of the speechless script from Mr. Bean and the playfulness of Toy Story in Coin Operated. First-time director – Nicholas Arioli presents us a tight and visually succinct animation that explores his personal experience with money, savings and childhood in a neat and glossy short animation.

The short opens with an energetic shot of a red flying space shuttle zooming in blue skies; the scene then fades to a young boy and mother walking down a tranquil suburb. The young boy zealously flies down the pavement, arms out, sporting an astronaut helmet, a space t-shirt and a crafty jet back. He halts himself as he catches the sight of a five-cent coin operated space-shuttle ride, where he jogs eagerly on the spot drowned by space pop arpeggios elevating the happy tone of the film. His mother attempts to drag him away until he draws a coin and embarks on a jittery ride only to be deeply disappointed by the lack of aviation delivered.

The boy’s ambitions are inflamed to travel to space and he begins his life-savings campaign of selling lemons in order to accomplish his grand journey to space, which is poetically allegorical and universal to the ideas of ambition, dreams and the often reality, of requiring money to finance goals.

The simple narrative of five-minutes is delivered in smooth matt visuals and high-saturated bright colours; the facial expressions of the boy demonstrates acute comprehension from Arioli, correlating expression and emotion without a word needing to enter the short.

For a short animated film of five minutes, Arioli delivers high quality visual narrative in a tidy short with the aid of cloud based animation platform – Nimble Collective; operated by a strongly experienced team of animators, Rex Grignon, Jason Schleifer and Scot LaFleur. The short is delivered in Corpella fashion, in the sense that nothing is wasted, the opening functions to tenderise us with the mother and son relationship, the shuttle holds as a symbol of flying to our dreams, the coin is the instigator of hard work, while the lemon stand is an American trope of the American dream.

High saturation, neat animation but not too waxen like Pixar’s, laconic actions for a speechless script, strong symbols and gestures, and a sensible use of time, Arioli demonstrates an acute possession of storytelling in tight quarters with deep emotional impact.

Nicholas Arioli is an engineer by trade, spent two years in the technology industry, now lives in San Francisco and is also colour blind. High hopes for this new director.

Keanu Arcadio

Animation | 5 Mins | Dir.Nicholas Arioli

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