Robert K. Stephen
“Animal Behaviour” is a charming 14 minute animated short produced by the National Film Board. As great films go if you are left scratching your head what this short is all about then I think it has achieved its mark.
Various animals show up for a group session with Dr. Leonard Clement a cool even-tempered canine therapist, at least for most of the session. There is Lorraine a leech suffering from separation anxiety. There is Todd the pig suffering from a truffle addiction. Victor the ape has terrible anger management problems. There is a praying mantis who is having difficulty establishing relationships as after sex she has a nasty problem of devouring her mate. Then there is Jeffrey the bird who has haunting memories of jealously after pushing out his sibling from the nest as he was jealous his mother was feeding worms to the sibling.
One view of the short is that it is a sarcastic look at psychiatry. If you have been to a psychiatrist or therapist I don’t think you can accept this. These professionals who have been the butt of jokes for too long really do care for their patients. Their role is not as portrayed in “Annie Hall”.
There is a simplistic message here. Although the patients are animals the issue is they have psychological problems directly applicable to humans or at least by way of metaphor.
A sympathetic view of both patient and therapist is the message I pick up here soused up with humour as the patients are animals. But aren’t we humans also animals.
Even Dr. Clement admits as a dog he was obsessed with sniffing the butts of other dogs and rather falls off the wagon for a moment describing his obsession. Yes therapists are humans!
If you need help for psychological issues this short really breaks down the barriers about asking for it.
This short was part of the 2018 TIFF.
To watch the trailer https://vimeo.com/269694854