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Film Review: Rocks in my pockets

  • 2014-08-06
  • By Laurence Boyce

The first full-length animated feature by a Latvian-born animator will be released in Latvia after it has had popular showings on the festival circuit.

The New York-based and Latvian-born animator Signe Baumane has long provided refreshingly adult work, unafraid to deal with themes such as sexuality and mortality. With Baumane garnering a well-deserved notoriety on the festival circuit and beyond, her first feature film has been somewhat anticipated. Receiving its world premiere at the renowned Czech Republic-based Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the film has already garnered a number of awards and plaudits.

In Rocks in my Pockets, Baumane continues with her personal and uncompromising examination of life as she explores the nature of her struggle with depression and that of her family. Beginning by telling the story of her grandmother in Latvia – who grimly dealt with war, occupation and a difficult family life – the film sees Baumane discover how much her immediate family have been affected by depression. As she unpicks her own memories – and those of her relatives, some of whom are unwilling to admit that depression even exists – Baumane slowly starts to understand the origin of her own depression.

This is a very human film with Baumane not holding back in opening up her life – and that of her family – to the viewers. But she avoids turning the film into an exercise in naval gazing, with her very real struggles being juxtaposed with Baumane’s sense of wonder and excitement on her voyage of discovery apparent.
Indeed there’s a playfulness at work here evident with both the animation (surreal and dreamlike) and the voice-over (which Baumane provides herself, both in English and in a Latvian version which will be, unsurprisingly, the one released in Latvia).

Its honesty and lack of pretension are ultimately what makes the film both compelling and – at points – extremely moving.
Rocks in my Pockets will be released in Latvia on Aug. 21.