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Your mountain is waiting

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Martha’s adventures through the washing machine looking-glass

On first watch and without context, Your Mountain Is Waiting may seem like simply a showcase for some very talented filmmakers. In its slightly uncanny animated world, a young woman named Martha is struggling in ways that seem both mundane (her plants are dying; she seems alone even when around others) and surreal (bugs and other critters keep making ominous cameos in her urban life). The dreary mood is drawn out by a muted, blue-dominated colour palette and dissonant score. Her difficulties are disrupted when a fox, trailing her throughout, guides her to a launderette. There, she tumbles through a washing machine and into a hallucinatory world overflowing with saturated hues and dreamlike landscapes. Eventually tumbling out and back into reality, the blues surrounding her have given way to a spectrum of colour. Back in her apartment, her plants are bright and sway with life. This has all the hallmarks of a familiar transformation narrative, echoing Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole or Dorothy’s trip into Oz. Yet, without any dialogue, its meaning might feel hazy, giving the film a first-glance appearance of a lush visual journey for its own sake. An excellent ride, but perhaps with no clear destination.

Yet another rich layer is added once you know what inspired the director Hannah Jacobs and the writer Harriet Gillian. ‘This film is about trusting your gut and following your instincts,’ says Jacobs. And, as Gillian puts it, ‘one of the messages of the film is to get outdoors in order to reconnect with your intuition.’ Through this frame, the blue-tinted urban malaise of Martha’s everyday life, compared with the vividness of the outdoor world, comes into clearer focus. Movements and scene-changes, stiff and rigid before her transformation, are free-flowing once she falls through the laundry machine looking-glass, conveying an embrace of what’s on the horizon. The fox, embodying intuition, is adrift and often hidden to Martha before becoming her constant companion during her escape. Read as a metaphor, each small detail seems to find new meaning.

The experience of intuition is a funny thing – enigmatic by its very nature. When it’s within your grasp, it can feel like a clear, confident internal voice. But to scrutinise it can be to quiet it and, once subdued, it can be drowned out by the static of second-guesses, anxieties and uncertainties, disintegrating even further with any mental attempt to recover it. Yet Jacobs and Gillian, perhaps informed by their own experiences, seem to suggest a means of reclaiming trust in your gut via escaping routine, tackling an adventure and, through this, regaining perspective and confidence. In doing so, Your Mountain Is Waiting offers a gentle nudge towards embracing the what’s to come – all while offering up some exquisite moving images.

Written by Adam D’Arpino

Director: Hannah Jacobs

Writer: Harriet Gillian

Producer: Zoe Muslim

Website: Strange Beast

23 February 2022