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A Coat Made Dark

Directed by Jack O'Shea

Starring Hugh O'Conor & Declan Conlon

Short film review by Monica Jowett

This abstract and unique animated short film from Jack O’Shea is a piece of wonderful animation about two robbers; one is a man who follows the orders of the other - a dog - to wear a coat that has impossible pockets.

In a film noir style, with tilted lines and monochrome colours, A Coat Made Dark has Peter (Hugh O’Conor) a man who is reluctant to go along with Midnight (Declan Conlon) a shady anthropomorphic dog who uses a stolen coat that provides him with infinite wealth as its pockets are brimming with gold and other secrets. Midnight teaches Peter ‘things he didn’t want to know’ and uses Peter for the coat. As Peter narrates, we come to understand how manipulative and odd Midnight is which is making Peter uncomfortable, so he takes a stand and leaves with the mysterious coat that has impossible pockets. However the dog wants the coat so much he follows Peter as he meets a girl, and once again manipulates Peter so he can stay close the coat.

Mystery surrounds this story, which is further demonstrated through the animation and music. The animation is often simple, like head tilts, walking or clothes blowing in the wind. When we see what is inside the pocket, it is animated like a night sky as the dots and colours shift, implying the pockets go on infinitely. Animated in monochrome colours of black and grey creates a noir effect, the short still gives a lot of detail to the setting, and the darkness makes the story shrouded in intrigue.

At times, the colour pink is used and has a stark contrast to the black and white. The eponymous coat is the colour pink; highlighting the enigmatic qualities the coat has and suggests its darkness is from its peculiar qualities and not its colour. There are other uses of colour, for objects like glasses and watches, which stand out against the black and grey. Silhouettes are frequently used for trees and houses, and detailed patterns show brickwork and tiling. The use of tilted angles in an off kilter design further builds this short film as a noir.

The music, from composer Neil O’Connor, makes use of howling winds and high screeching sounds that add to the intensity and mystery of the film. An interesting piece of animation from Jack O’Shea and crew, A Coat Made Dark is a piece that would attract anyone with a love for noir or an alternative style of animation.

This short film will feature at this year's Cork Film Festival. See more film reviews of other entries, check out our Film Festivals page.


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