Mikey Please’s previous film, The Eagleman Stag, was a big hit with Gorilla, and one that we screened to hundreds of people at a Cycle-In-Cinema event (it also won a BAFTA, but whatever). Clearly his new film, Marilyn Myler, has quite an act to follow.
Marilyn Myler opens big; we start with creation, space, light, planets, stars, and a woman floating in the void. All this grandiosity is paired with a sparse, deadpan, voiceover that explains what we are seeing, albeit with some trepidation.
From the big opening, Mikey shrinks us down and takes us to Earth, where we see the woman from space moulding the planet; rivers, mountains, tress, and humans are conjured up with her own two hands. And then, frustratingly, destroyed. The perspective changes and we see Marylin outside of this God-fantasy, and in reality, where she’s just another struggling artist beavering away at her lonely desk, frustrated with her skill, frustrated with her ideas, frustrated with being unappreciated. This is the crux of the film; the frustration that comes with creation.
The frustration for Marilyn comes from two sources, one is with herself and her inability to execute her ideas as well as she’d like, and the other comes from people’s inability to sufficiently appreciate her work. They can look at her sculptures, stroke their chins and call it moving, but can they ever really appreciate what she’s gone through to produce her work? How can anyone but the creator appreciate that?
This would understandably be a matter close to the heart of Mikey Please. His animation, which uses white foam, moves with remarkable fluidity and incorporates incredibly intricate sets, and must be painstaking in the extreme to produce. Does the audience’s response match up to his levels of effort and commitment? And then there’s his subject matter, which is existential in essence and hard to nail down; why make something if it’s not going to be everything you want it to be and won’t be appreciated the way you expect?
If the audience do not appreciate Marylin Myler to the level Mikey hopes, it will not be through his lack of effort or talent. The modelling is precise but playful, and the movement achieved is energetic and smooth. But perhaps the most impressive element is the way he employs light; it bounces off, shines through, and shadows his foam world in a way that really brings it to life.
So it would seem that once again Mikey Please has produced something exceptional. With Marylin Myler he tackles a difficult, obtuse subject, but deftly builds a compelling story with a deep subtext. His animation has improved too, thanks to his skillful use of lighting, and bold, confident shot choices (the camera pulling out of planets is worthy of special mention).
If the ‘frustration in creation’ of Marilyn Myler is a reflection of Mikey’s feelings about filmmaking, then it may be no bad thing for us as viewers, as it’s clearly driving him on to greater things.