Keep Your Hair On, Olivier

"Olivier does everything he can to hide his baldness from his wife."

Keep Your Hair On, Olivier is a short film by French artist Armelle Mercat about a man who fears that his wife will stop loving him if she finds out he is bald. It was created by the artist at Ciclic Animation’s residency program.

Staged mostly inside a house in a rural area, the short features three main characters (one of them a cat), a strong internal conflict that triggers external ones, plus a focus on hair, relationships, invention and an accent on comedy.

A stylized aesthetic is employed that mixes hand-drawn with painterly elements. Color palettes tend to a low saturation, with the exception of a few colors which are used to highlight particular characters (the cat) or elements (grass, liquids, etc.). Good effort has been dedicated to environment and character designs. The characters’ expressiveness is worth noting. Olivier’s facial expressions are particularly effective at transmitting the character’s conflicts. The cat’s expressiveness and animation are remarkable, too. The authenticity of its behavior seems to point to research on the subject and perhaps some personal experience from the artist.

Narrated mostly from Olivier’s point of view and due to the film’s focus on hair and its highly psychological script, camera framing features plenty of close-ups, extreme close-ups and tight shots. These are used to capture the man character’s tribulations and the ways he tries to solve them. Two-shots and three-shots are used to show the interaction of the characters. Wider shots are used to show Christine’s actions inside the house, Olivier’s invention, or the rural environment.

Visual rhythm is high, handled mainly through editing and motion within the frame. A few camera moves are employed effectively at times of increased tension.

What makes Keep Your Hair On, Olivier work so well? Creative script, strong internal conflict, plenty of surprises and plot points, and great use of an antagonistic, disruptive cat character for comedic effect.

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