‘Janet’ as reviewed by Emily Thomas
Janet (Olivia McLaughlin) plays with childhood innocence and tells the story of a young girl who, much to her dismay, has to get glasses and give up a beloved hobby. The playful, quirky tone makes the short truly unique, and McLaughlin captures the excitement and innocence of childhood as Janet blossoms in her newfound talent.
As an expression of Janet’s bubbly personality, the colours and patterns used throughout perfectly capture her excitement at learning to dance and making a new friend. Her cheeriness is represented by the colour yellow, and she always wears one item in the colour, whether it be a t-shirt, hair ribbon or sparkly shoes. Her quirky style goes far towards the distinctive visuals in the short: spots and stripes abound in her dancing gear and her red turtleneck and yellow vest distinguish her from the other students dressed in black. The pastel blues and greens of her living room make her stand out further- the world feels just a little bit brighter when Janet is in it.
The cinematography also serves to highlight Janet’s age: the image of her staring starry eyed at ballroom dancers twirling on TV can’t help but bring a smile to the viewer’s face. Beautiful stationary shots emphasise Janet’s expressiveness, and innovative techniques help us to identify with her further (McLaughlin says in her Q&A that she put glasses over the lens to replicate Janet’s blurry vision). An aerial shot of Janet walking slowly up to the other dancers in her dance class highlights how small she feels among them, although her subsequent teddy bear waltz assures us she isn’t fazed by the whispers and giggles of her classmates.
Janet is a beautiful celebration of childhood innocence and the importance of being yourself, and the off-the-wall visual style only makes the lead character even more lovable as we root for her to succeed.