Short of the Week


Manuel is stuck in a boring job, has only one friend whom he cannot stand, and his family despises him. But everything is about to change.

Like his previous film, Mi Amigo Invisible, Pablo Larcuen’s Elefante is a tale of an alienated loner told in first-person voiceover. But where the earlier film used ’80s pop culture references to tell a coming-of-age tale, Elefante mines the darker territory of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis.

Manuel’s life is unhappy in a nondescript kind of way. He hates his job, he feels unloved by his wife, and he doesn’t even like his friend Sergio all that much. But his life is about to change dramatically when his doctor diagnoses him with a mysterious disease that will soon turn him into an elephant.

Larcuen’s signature mixture of absurd humour and heartfelt emotion is in full evidence here. Absurd, because after all, a man is turning into an elephant! But really it’s just that Manuel’s sense of isolation and rejection is being taken to its extreme. Though his earlier film featured a character in a ridiculous rubber mask for comic effect, Elefante‘s makeup effects are of much higher quality, and effectively convey Manuel’s increasing exclusion from normal life. The mournful soundtrack contributes as well, ensuring that we never treat this strangely transformed character as a joke.

Though the film has moments of humour, the conclusion of this melancholy “comedy” will bring tears to a few eyes, demonstrating that Larcuen’s writing has some dramatic range. Elefante was his graduation film from ESCAC (The Film and Audiovisual School of Catalonia) and won Best Short Film at the Sitges Film Festival.

Larcuen’s next project is a horror feature, in English, called Hooked Up. It’s billed as the first feature film to be shot entirely on an iPhone.

James lives in Toronto and blogs about film at Toronto Screen Shots. His interest in short film led him to establish the quarterly screening series Shorts That Are Not Pants. Follow him on Twitter: @TOscreenshots and @shortsnotpants.
  • Manuel

    This is genius! He is obviously not getting the 3 things people say a man needs to have to be happy. So instead of being unhappy being a man, he becomes an elephant!

  • bob the moo

    A repost?

  • bob the moo

    A repost?

  • James McNally

    Why do you ask, Bob?

  • bob the moo

    I saw this one a few weeks ago and assumed I had seen it on this site…perhaps I was mistaken.

    Edit: I was mistaken – it was Futureshorts I watched it, not here. Apologies.

  • umerpute

    Disgusting, a total aberration for animal species. Who the fuck can believe that an elephant would be happy in a zoo?

  • James McNally

    The short has been online a few weeks. My review was a bit slow in coming, alas. Hope you enjoyed it (again)!

  • Nayoung Jin

    original & beauty of simplicity . a neat piece

  • Christin

    Beautiful! I actually cried!

  • Ayd?n

    I liked the cinematography. Story was simple and touching.

  • saviaj

    Metamorphosis meets the Elephant Man

  • talia

    I don’t think that has anything to do with the movie.

  • Luna García

    Great short film! it really brings that agonizing reminiscent from Kafka text, great done!

  • Ezekiel the Great

    I enjoyed watching this film and used it as my paper telling my professor how it felt in to become distant with the people you need.. (emotional and touching)