Sébastien Laudenbach’s The Girl Without Hands (La Fille Sans Mains),  his first feature after a string of highly promising shorts, is a hand-painted animated jewel of a film in glorious 2D. The story of a young woman, collateral victim of her father’s pact with the Devil, challenging the darkness of the world with her purity of mind and body.

Freely adapted from European folk tales (once collected by Brothers Grimm), The Girl Without Hands is mainly the result of independent work and spirit ( Laudenbach wrote, directed, edited and shot it), despite the fact he found some late support (and money) at the end of the process to help resume production.

The minimalist but delightful result is literally an improvisation on the tale’s premises.

The director, armed with a black pencil, drew directly on paper while the colors and compositing process benefited from outside help.

The Girl Without Hands‘ ultimate outcome is an uncompromising work of refined art showing there is a world beyond Pixar.

Warning: talent on display.

*** For Montrealers the film is showing in French (dialogues are minimal) at Cinémathèque Québécoise.