A man sits alone in an empty room, looking at a single photograph of himself of when he was happy.
It's a shame that there is so many fine stop-motion animators out there, who get brushed to side thanks to Burton's movies like "A Nightmare Before Christmas" or "The Corpse Bride." Which are fine I suppose, I truly dislike them, but that's besides the point. So it came as a nice surprise to come across the work of Robert Morgan, a man who is making very distinctive animation films and isn't trying follow in Burton's pop-trend footsteps.
"The Man In the Lower Left Hand Corner Of the Photograph" is a look at one man's decaying existence. Everything around him has a rotted look to it, as if the set had recently been exhumed, even the man himself looks aged when compared to the photo of himself from the past. A photo that shows a person who was once happy, but now is reduced to life of ruins and who's only companion is a maggot that is kept in a drawer. That and the lonely woman who lives next door who he watches from time to time through a hole in the wall. Unfortunately for the woman, the unhappiness and loneliness is an unbearable burden and hangs herself. Watching the whole thing go down, the man heads over to her places and rummages through her belongings and finds a picture of her that is similar to his. Obviously striking a chord with him, he brings her body back to his place even though she is no longer alive, he still feels a connection with her.
The amount of detail that is given to this movie was one of things that really stood out to me, as I said, the main characters surroundings are given a very rotted look. The room, the bed, the furniture, even the man himself. When he goes to watch his neighbor through the hole, you even see the scratches on the floor from him moving the bed, giving us a clear indication of how often he has watched her. Which is exactly what a movie like this needs, here we have no dialogue, narrative or even a real person to emote that helps explain the story. It's all about the director/creator's ability to give us the story through the locations, and the amount of detail and attention given to the design of, basically everything. Even down to the very haunting music that can be very soft and subtle, or at times very loud and intense, only adding more to the emotional scenes of someone trying to find happiness.
As far as the story itself goes, it is almost a depressing one as it is about a person who has nothing other than a single photo himself being in a better place, at some point in time. So he's left with the only thing he can do, and that is to create his own happiness within his surroundings, whether it be with a maggot kept in a drawer or the woman who isn't even aware of his existence. In the end, she plays an important part of the story with bringing closure to a sad tale, where two people are able to find what they are lacking and desire. The movie isn't as open ended as other films that share the similar art-house style, as Robert Morgan obviously knew what the story was, what he wanted to tell and does. This isn't the first movie I've seen of Morgan's, so I can comfortably say that his style and his films rank up there with the best of the stop-motion animators, like Jan Svankmajer or The Brother's Quay.