REVIEW: ‘Canvas’ is Eight Minutes of Magic

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Canvas

How we all deal with loss is as varied, and personal as anything can be. Trauma can shape us, and break us, in ways we could never expect. And when that trauma has a link to something we are passionate about, it can take that too. Leaving the individual with one less way to process or cope with what they have been forced to endure. Such is the situation we are presented in Canvas.

Canvas is an animated short film from Netflix and written and directed by Frank E. Abney III. Due to a recent tragedy, an old man has lost his inspiration to paint. Luckily though, he isn’t alone. His daughter frequents his home, bringing along his granddaughter. And maybe through family, a spark can be rekindled. As an artist who often uses their crafts, both painting, and writing, to escape from the struggles around me, this story really hit home. That’s not to say I think that perspective is necessary to appreciate what this story does. Loss and the overcoming of grief is as universal a concept as can be found. And this story explores it in a profoundly deep manner. And all in only eight minutes.

It’s always hard to write about such a short film without giving spoilers, but I’ll do my best. As you begin this emotional journey the first thing you’ll notice is the initial art style. Rather than the classic Pixar style CGI that makes up the bulk of this story, the opening looks like a painting come to life. We see our main character painting a woman sitting under a tree. Seeing her, and putting the brush to the canvas clearly gives him an overwhelming sense of joy. This scene is brilliantly lit and everything about it is warm and calming.

From here Canvas cuts to the traditional style of CGI. This gives a sharp contrast to the film’s tone. Like leaving a dream, and awakening to reality. This leads us to a few moments with the old man as he goes about his day. Outside, under the tree, the easel he was painting on is still there. Though now, instead of a smile, seeing it causes him sadness. This further contrasts the two moments, as the object is forced from being a point of happiness to one of frustration.

The musings of the old man are interrupted by the arrival of his daughter and granddaughter. The child is thrilled to see him, gifting her grandfather with a drawing she’s made. For a moment the old man is happy, as the innocence and joy of the young is allowed to warm him. What follows are a series of small moments between the old man and his granddaughter. I won’t spoil what these moments are, but they are elegantly done, as they capture several all too real instances. And all this is conveyed and delivered flawlessly without a word of spoken dialogue.

At its end, Canvas is eight minutes of pure magic. It delivers a heartfelt message about grief, mourning, and finding the inspiration to carry on doing what you love. Canvas is a wonderful short-film that is completely worth watching.

Canvas is streaming now on Netflix.

Canvas
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

At its end, Canvas is eight minutes of pure magic. It delivers a heartfelt message about grief, mourning, and finding the inspiration to carry on doing what you love. Canvas is a wonderful short-film that is completely worth watching.