- 13 min
Ryan is a 2004 short animated documentary film directed by Canadian animator Chris Landreth. The film explores the life and career of Ryan Larkin, a once-promising animator who fell into obscurity and poverty after struggling with addiction and mental illness. The film begins with a scene of Ryan Larkin, now in his 60s, panhandling on the streets of Montreal. A flashback takes the audience back to the 1960s, when Larkin was a rising star in the animation world. He had won critical acclaim for his surreal and innovative works, including Walking and Street Musique, both of which are featured in the film.
Unfortunately, Larkin's success was short-lived. He became addicted to drugs, including heroin, and began a downward spiral that lasted for decades. He lost everything: his job, his art, his friends, his family, and ultimately, his dignity. The film portrays Larkin's decline with heartbreaking honesty, revealing how he lived in squalor, was arrested multiple times, and eventually ended up homeless.
The film also features interviews with Larkin's friends and colleagues, who reminisce about his talent, as well as his struggles. They speak about the time when he was hailed as a genius, and how they were all surprised to see him fall so far. One of the most poignant moments of the film comes when they describe how they would see Larkin walking around the streets of Montreal, often carrying a sketchbook, looking for inspiration.
Interspersed with these interviews are scenes of Chris Landreth's animated interpretations of Larkin and his life. These scenes are surreal and unsettling, using a technique called "psychological realism" to depict Larkin's mental state. They are often disturbing and bizarre, but they also highlight Larkin's enduring creativity and imagination, even in the midst of his struggles.
The film's emotional climax comes when Landreth, himself an Oscar-winning animator, confronts Larkin and challenges him to face his demons. This scene is a powerful moment of catharsis, as Landreth uses his own struggles with depression to connect with Larkin on a deep level. The two men bond over their shared experiences, and Landreth encourages Larkin to seek help and reclaim his life.
Ryan is a haunting and deeply affecting documentary that shines a light on the harsh realities of addiction and mental illness. It is both a tribute to a talented artist who lost his way and a call to action for those who struggle with similar challenges. The film's mix of animation and documentary techniques creates a unique and engaging viewing experience that is as visually striking as it is emotionally resonant. It is a must-see for anyone interested in the intersection of art, mental health, and social justice.
Ryan is a 2004 documentary with a runtime of 13 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5.