Writer and Director: Joe Mateo
The move from television streaming service to original content producers has been one of the biggest upheavals in moviemaking in the last few years with Amazon, Netflix and Apple TV+ rivalling the big studios as major production houses. The latter begins a series of Apple Original Films released throughout October and November with Blush, a charming 10-minute short that celebrates the power of nature and the desire to create a home.
When an astronaut accidentally navigates into the side of a dwarf planet, the bare, grey rock seems desolate and lonely, a place where even the beloved plants he carefully tends in the spaceship wither and die. But when an ethereal being known as Blush appears, her aura creates an ecosystem bursting with foliage that fills the planet and the astronaut’s heart with love.
Available from 1 October, Blush is delightfully simple. Its two central characters never speak and instead the narrative is invested in the visual complexity of the animation that brings writer and director Joe Mateo’s vision to life. Both Blush and the astronaut are designed to be doll-like and adorable, with huge eyes and slightly oversized heads that successfully invest their characters with emotion.
As art director, Julian Romero Muñoz creates computerised backdrops that look more real than the protagonists with close attention paid to the effect created by individual blades of grass or leaves. The palette of bright pastels emphasises the innocence of the central couple, while the move to blues and greys later in the film signal shifts in the internal experience of the characters.
Mateo’s piece is filled with storytelling which sometimes in just a few seconds conveys the sweet uncertainty of strangers who learn from each other, as well as years of existence as the couple draw closer by the life they begin to build together. Thematically, Mateo draws on Mother Nature metaphors in the presentation of Blush, a character that must be nurtured and protected in order for the world to flourish, and there are repeated references to changing seasons plus the natural cycles of birth, life, hibernation and rebirth which are meaningfully created.
Blush doesn’t shy away from the darker tones, the possibility that bad things can happen for no reason and its testament to Mateo’s storytelling and the team of artists at Skydance Animation that these briefly introduced concepts evolve quite naturally from the story, supported by Joy Ngiaw’s score that guides the audience through the changing emotional states as the experience of the astronaut and the planet are entwined.
For the characters in Blush the unexpected autumn is a time for browning leaves and a touch of melancholy to fill the air but this delightful family-friendly short will chase any seasonal blues away. And with several films schedule for release staring major Hollywood names from Tom Hanks to Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio, Apple TV+ has an exciting autumn programme of original movies on the way.
Blush is released on Apple TV+ on 1 October.