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Ninety-Five Senses

average rating is 5 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Oct 4, 2023

Film Reviews
Ninety-Five Senses
Directed by:
Jared Hess & Jerusha Hess
Written by:
Chris Bowman & Hubbel Palmer
Tim Blake Nelson

Jared & Jerusha Hess’ Ninety-Five Senses is an astonishing and emotional animated short that brilliantly visualises the wonderous ways we experience the world, whilst constructing a devastating story about the fragility of life and the tragedy of unrecognised possibility.


Coy (Tim Blake Nelson), an elderly and storied self-described hillbilly, ponders on the wonder of the five human senses. He states to have never used a cell phone that damages the eyes and to have yearned for stronger senses of smell and hearing – having arrived at a point in life in which he is fully appreciative of all the abilities humans possess to comprehend the world. But Coy’s time with which he can enjoy such gifts grows short – and a shocking revelation about his life explains his hope that another chance in another life may be possible.


Ninety-Five Senses is a brilliant slow-burner, best enjoyed with as little knowledge going in as possible. Coy’s ruminations on the important things in life and how we are gifted with the facilities with which to enjoy them are intriguing enough (if a little like something your grandmother may share on Facebook), and the film’s animation style makes the film an enjoyable and stimulating watch from the off. But as Coy reveals more about his life, circumstances and how his situation came to be, the film ascends from intriguing to mesmerising. One particular revelation about his past is truly shocking, and hits the viewer like a ton of bricks as they comprehend what has already been established about the narrator, and what they have just learned. The subsequent re-assessment of Coy’s words, thoughts and life lessons is fascinating, morbid, and the film’s finest achievement. It asks real questions of the audience, who will go into a beautiful and contemplative finale with mixed emotions.


The film mixes animation stylings as it explores the five different senses. All manage to fit together well and this choice never comes across as gimmicky or experimental. The animator’s abilities to envisage things like smell and touch is impressively, well, sensual – imaginative whilst still holding back when required. At the heart of it all is of course Coy, a lonely figure whose grey hairs and push-broom moustache convey wisdom, even despite his own protests. Yet an overriding sense of regret is evident in his design, even though acceptance of his own actions comes from his body language as well.


Tim Blake Nelson is on naturally fine form, savouring every syllable of southern twang as Coy’s reminiscent ramblings roll over the vibrant imagery. Coy’s voice and delivery is key to making him a sympathetic character, and one whom the viewer still wishes to engage with regardless of what they learn about him. Similarly, enough hints of wisdom and tenderness make his own account of his life credible – another essential quality in attaining empathy from the audience.


Ninety-Five Senses is a visual treat for the eyesight, a hair-raising emotional rollercoaster for the touch, engaging story for the ears, and leaves a great metaphorical taste in the mouth (alright, alright, I’ll stop.) Use your common sense, and give this one a watch.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film, Indie Feature Film, Animation
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