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average rating is 4 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Aug 28, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Ana Gusson
Written by:
Robyn Campbell

Familiar themes of growth, independence and finding yourself are beautifully realised in animated short Pivot, a film that dines at the table Pixar made with its story of a mother-daughter relationship and how a schism in each’s expectations impacts on their lives.


Ashley is a tomboyish 12-year-old growing up and exploring her passion for basketball. When her mother presents her with a gaudy dress for her to wear, it triggers an identity crisis in the youngster with her anxieties taking on a monstrous form that threaten to swallow her whole. Ashley is forced to confront truths about herself and her relationship with her mother – and communicate who she wants to be.


Pivot has many of the hallmarks of a classic pre-feature short. Using stylish, crisp and original animation to explore family dynamics – particularly parental relationships – is hardly untread territory. Pivot does an effective job with this assignment, creating touching emotional (if predictable) beats. Where it stands out from the pack is its genuinely scary and disturbing second act. In a sequence that would not look out of place in a cartoon adaption of Stranger Things, Ashley is chased by a nightmarish beastly manifestation that acts as a symbolic representation of her fears and doubts about herself. It’s a chance for the animators to really let loose and introduce an unexpected edge to the film. Whilst managing to just stay on the side of being friendly to youngers viewers, it is a great example of daring in a genre that sometimes plays things a little too safe. The filmmakers deserve credit – as does director Ana Gusson for bringing writer Robyn Campbell’s authentic vision to life.


The vibrant animation is indeed at the heart of the film’s impressive storytelling, with subtle uses of lilacs and purples to represent the mother’s vision, a darker palette for Ashley’s nightmarish journey, followed by a notable prominence for Ashley’s chosen green when conciliation is attained between the pair. The filmmakers do a great job of experimenting with unconventional styles and nailing Ashley’s emotional state down, such as representing her anxieties with unnerving, glaring eyeballs.


Pivot’s influences are clear to see and outside of its bold nightmare sequence, it does follow a predictable lead that short films such as Bao or Out have realised in similar situations. However it is still charming and uplifting, offering a positive message without compromising the vision of its writer and director.

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