REVIEW: ‘Poupelle of Chimney Town’ Is Beyond Charming

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Poupelle of Chimney Town - But Why Tho

Animation is a medium that allows storytellers to embrace the truly magical, taking audiences to places that live-action doesn’t always allow for. This is even more true when adapting stories like those featured in picturebooks and children’s illustrated literature. Animation provides a spark to bring art to life, and that’s exactly what happens in Poupelle of Chimney Town. Based on the picturebook by Ahikiro Nishino of the same name, Nishino also provides the story and screenplay for Poupelle of Chimney Town. The film is produced by STUDIO4 ºC and directed by Yusuke Hirota (with Jamie Simone serving as the English-language director and John Sutherland providing the adaptation and distributed by Eleven Arts).

Poupelle of Chimney Town is the story of young Lubicchi, a young chimney sweep living in a smoke-filled and isolated town. Enamored by his father’s stories, he’s made the choice to work above the city on chimneys, hoping to one day see a glimpse of the stars his father told him about. One Halloween night, he meets Poupelle, a man made of garbage that he takes in. They bond to one another, with Lubicchi protecting the “Garbage Man” from a town that has been conditioned to fear what is different. In truth, for the inhabitants of Chimeny Town, there is nothing beyond the billowing smoke and no way outside of the city bordered by a sea with a terrifying monster.

To keep people in complacency, the Inquisitors silence heretics—those who dare disrupt the city’s order by believing that there is more outside the limits. Now, this concept isn’t a new one, but the way that Poupelle of Chimney Town delivers a story of a child saving a city from isolation and fear is a special one. The driving force of the film is about continually pushing into the unknown. Having the courage to do so, even when you’re alone, is the lesson that Lubicchi learns from his father, Bruno. The courage to push forward and explore goes hand in hand with the need to believe in yourself, an important note spoken by Bruno. He tells the audience that it’s okay to look past what people tell you is possible, it’s okay to believe in yourself, and it’s okay sometimes to be the only one keeping it all alive.

This message is vital for the youngest of us. A call to always believe in yourself even when it’s easier to go with the crowd may seem like a dime a dozen, but Poupelle of Chimney Town injects this message with a vibrant beauty that can’t be ignored and helps it stand out from other films. Of course, this is because of the script and the loving dialogue, but it’s also because of the beauty of the animation.

One of the most beautifully stunning films to come out since January 2021, Poupelle of Chimney Town tells its story visually as much as verbally. Montages of silent characters moving through the world hold some of the film’s most emotive moments. Mixed animation elements help the film become something wholly unique, with one section at the start of the film resembling a 2D side-scroller video game and another living in a space between 2D and 3D thanks to the linework of the art. Through a vibrant color palette and a deft hand, each scene is alive, and every moment feels essential.

Finally, Poupelle of Chimney Town is something exceptional thanks to music from Youki Kojima and Yuta Bandoh. From the absolute catchy Halloween song at the beginning of the film to the score in the film’s emotional climax, every note of the film’s music builds a magical world that, while fantastical, emotionally resonates with viewers. There is happiness, fear, and vulnerability, but above all else, there is hope. It may be small at first. But, pushed by Bruno and then carried on by Lubicchi, that hope grows and grows with the music and animation matching the narrative.

Playing a select number of screens during another peak of the pandemic in the United States, it’s be hard to recommend going to the theater to see Poupelle of Chimney right this moment. That said, it is beauty and hope, and everything that drives those pieces home are well worth the watch once it’s available for at-home viewing. It’s a film I hope many watch, and one that tops many currently included in Awards season races. Poupelle of Chimney Town is an instant classic.

Poupelle of Chimney Town is playing in select theaters nationwide.


Poupelle of Chimney Town
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Playing a select number of screens during another peak of the pandemic in the United States, it will be hard to Poupelle of Chimney right this moment. That said it’s beauty, its hope, and everything that drives those pieces home are well worth the watch once it’s available for at-home viewing. It’s a film I hope many watch, and one that tops many currently included in Awards season races. Poupelle of Chimney Town is an instant classic.

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