Sylvain Chomet to Adapt the Tone of Park Chan-Wook in 'Familiar Things'

The French animator sets his sights on the master of Korean suspense for his next oddball drama.

The Triplets Of Bellville

The French animator sets his sights on the master of Korean suspense for his next oddball drama.

While 2D cel animation has faded from the popular consciousness, writer/director Sylvain Chomet continues to push the format further. Still in the process of wrapping up his latest feature film, a celebratory tribute to Federico Fellini entitled The Thousand Miles, Chomet has already lined up his next project. According to the site Korean Film (via The Film Stage), Chomet will adapt the Korean novel “Familiar Things” which focuses on a family living on a landfill.

In the book, a 14-year old boy and his mother relocate to Flower Island, a repurposed landfill on the outskirts of South Korea that has become home to the impoverished. They support themselves on the garbage that constantly builds around them, and the story follows the mother and son as they search for happiness within the lowest tier of society.

If you’re at all familiar with Chomet’s films The Triplets of Belleville or The Illusionist, you can already imagine how this landfill island will come to life in his particular brand of hand-drawn animation. Overly detailed waves of refuse swaying under the breeze, moving to the rhythm of the score, and the child entering the frame to pick his way through the treasures hidden within. As he did with Belleville, the director relishes the opportunity to savage our consumer ways. Sign me up.

Chomet is a filmmaker who wears his influences on his sleeves. The Triplets of Belleville bounces with silent film humor, giving not-so-subtle nods to both Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. The Illusionist is a rich portrait devoted to the work of filmmaker Jacques Tati. We’re still waiting to see how he’ll tackle the maestro Fellini in The Thousand Miles, but you can guarantee it will be an homage composed with passion.

That leaves the question of Familiar Things. From who will its adulation and reverence stem from? As Korean Film reports, Chomet discovered an enthusiasm for Korean cinema through the works of Park Chan-wook. Understandable, as the Vengeance Trilogy steered plenty of global attention to the country’s varied cinematic landscape. Contemplating how the mood and tone of Park Chak-wook could possibly influence Chomet’s animation certainly sets the mind ablaze.

Considering that his previous films have been so steeped in 20th Century French pop culture, it is surprising to hear that Chomet has chosen a Korean novel as the source of his next animated venture. Will he transplant the trash island off the coast of Normandy? Will he go the Triplets of Belleville route and concoct an amalgam of city life with a dash of Seoul, New York, and Quebec? Whatever the answer, I am there for it.

The sad news is that we’re going to have to wait a while for this one. As wonderful as it is to hear that he’s already lined up another project after The Thousand Miles, Chomet’s championing of cel animation requires significant time to get the job done. The Illusionist took more than three years to complete, and more than eight years has stretched between that film and The Thousand Miles. No rush work here. So, file this one away in the back of your head.

Trekkie, Not Trekker. Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects, co-host of the In The Mouth of Dorkness Podcast.