Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
A cinematic caliber musical dance video depicting the perspective of a man who has fallen out of the begrudged groove of a typical workday in the city.
I was really excited to watch ANIMA as soon as I heard it was directed by one of my favorite Director's Paul Thomas Anderson. Overall I mostly felt underwhelmed the first time I watched this. Sure it has cool visuals and choreography, but I guess I was just not expecting it to be an ongoing dance sequence through these various sets. But I am glad that I held off writing about this roughly 14 min. short until after my second watch the following day, when I did enjoy it more and started analyzing it.
I enjoyed Thom Yorke's score, but there was not much about it that stood out to me. It more or less acts as ambient music that works to propel the dancing, and at times I did hear some whispers included to reinforce the themes.
Analysis of ANIMA:
Essentially I took away that our main character has woken up from this sleepy routine of everyone filing off to work on the train. The shot of everyone waving their heads from side to side in different ways which appears like they are trying to stay awake, was among my three favorite moments. PTA emphasizes the main character has fallen out of this cycle by how he is unable to go through the turnstile, and instead must leap over it.
We get a lot of the main character running through spaces that are enhanced by projections on the wall and a couple of lens flare. The next section has arguably the best visual, as a line of people with their 'heads down' are making their way up a slanted platform. There is a lunch pail on the platform, so I took this as people often trying to keep their heads down and not be noticed at work, as they pound their way through the morning toward lunch.
In the final section, we see the main character come together with his girlfriend or wife. They share some very romantic dances together through the streets and into the park of a European city. After googling the destination labeled on the tram at the end, it appears like they are in the Czech Republic. I liked the wide shot of several couples dancing in the park, but my favorite moment from this section was when they are gazing at each other while rolling on a wall similar to being in bed.
I used to watch the show 'So You Think You Can Dance' with my wife often, and ANIMA felt like a modern dance that I would have seen on that show, and I curious to get her take on it. It is neat how PTA has such a popular platform like Netflix to share smaller projects like this on, that allow him to flex his creativity. It would be interesting to see him adapt some of this abstract style into his next feature.
Thanks for reading.
Happy movie watching ... SKOL!