In 2017 and 2018, Anna Mantzaris shared a pair student films, each using fuzzy, felted puppets to explore the darker side of human nature. Each stands on its own—it isn’t even clear that Mantzaris thought of them as related. Consciously or not, they complement each other perfectly, like two sides of the same psychological coin.
Enough is the more immediate of the two, a two-minute burst of uncontrolled impulses and cathartic moments that picked up the audience choice award at GIRAF, along with a host of other accolades on the animation circuit. A series of vignettes, it captures the exact moment when an inner urge overwhelms better judgement. Sometimes they’re self-destructive, other times outwardly violent, or even moments of quiet despair. Mantzaris has marvelous comic timing, though, so even the most horrifying moments come across lighter than they should—helped along by the gentle designs of the characters.
If Enough is about that moment of indulgence, Good Intentions is about the aftermath. It’s only fitting, then, that it’s the longer of the two (eight minutes, compared to two for Enough), and by far the more complex of the two. Opening with a rash decision—the main character flees from the site of an accident without waiting to see if the other driver is OK—it tackles guilt, fear, trauma and remorse in unexpected ways. As strange encounters pile up, it becomes clear that acting so callously has consequences, that some vital part of the character has been destroyed.
Inspired by Mantzaris’ experience of moving to London (she told Vimeo that Enough was inspired by staring at the tightly packed London Underground, where she could “sense the frustration in the air” and “started to imagine what these people felt on the inside, what they actually wanted to do”), the films paint a complex picture of life in a society. Enough argues that unwelcome urges are universal, and its festival success proves a lot of audiences can relate to that. But if having those impulses is part of what makes us human, Good Intentions shows how indulging them doesn’t just hurt others, it destroys ourselves, as the main character’s lingering guilt transforms her into a literal shadow of her former self.
In a way, though, Good Intentions isn’t actually about consequences—not external ones at least. What gets to the main character isn’t some outside authority, but guilt, empathy, and uncertainty. Just like the impulses themselves, the reason to ignore them also comes from inside, and it’s part of what connects us, too.
dir: Anna Mantzaris
syn: Moments of lost self-control.
Good Intentions (2018)
dir: Anna Mantzaris
syn: In this small thriller about decision making and guilt, a young woman is responsible for a car accident. She escapes the scene but can’t stop thinking, or imagining, what happened to the other driver. And soon strange things starts to happen…
Bonus: Mantzaris created a few more lapses in impulse control in a PSA for fighting the “Motherhood Penalty”