Sita Sings the Blues -- Film Review
To be sure, the film, which interweaves a fictionalized version of its filmmaker's romantic history with excerpts from the ancient Indian epic tale the "Ramayana," is a rather rarified effort that will probably appeal more to adults than to children.
The main storyline concerns Nina, a Brooklyn woman whose boyfriend Dave leaves for India on a six-month work assignment only to wind up breaking up with her via e-mail. Narrating the action are three Indian-accented shadow puppets who use the story of the goddess Sita's ill-fated marriage to the Lord Rama as a parallel to Nina's romantic turmoil.
Appropriately themed musical numbers also figure prominently in the action, via a Betty Boop-style cartoon figure singing to vintage recordings by the 1920's blues singer Annette Hanshaw.
Paley uses a variety of animation styles, ranging from computer to hand-drawn to collage, to wonderful effect, presenting a vividly colorful and sophisticated visual palette that is consistently diverting.
The playfulness also extends to the presentation, with an "intermission" provided despite the film's relatively brief 82-minute running time.
Arriving amidst a tidal wave of overblown and frequently charmless big studio efforts, "Sita Sings the Blues" is a welcome reminder that when it comes to animation bigger isn't necessarily better.
Opened Friday, Dec. 25 (GKids)
Director/screenwriter/animator/editor: Nina Paley
No rating, 82 mins.