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Wry animations expose the gap between anxious aspiration and real life

‘I work hard. I work very hard’: a female voice describes herself using language that seems to conform to societal expectations of what a modern person – and a modern woman especially – ought to be. As the narration unfolds without context, her words use stock phrases you might read on a resume or hear aloud as self-affirmations. But the shakiness of her voice accompanied by the wry animated sequences that unfold alongside – a man scaling a house of cards; a porcupine surrounded by balloons – expose the sentiments as hollow and at odds with the narrator’s true experience of life. Based on graphic novels exploring anxiety by the Canadian artist Catherine Lepage, The Great Malaise finds poignance, dark humour and perhaps a good deal of catharsis in mining the gaps between who we think we should be be and who we actually are.

Director: Catherine Lepage

Producer: Marc Bertrand

Website: National Film Board of Canada

18 April 2022

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