A woman sits alone on a chair at a table in a room on one of the top floors of an asylum. Bright spot lights dot the night, sometimes shining on her window. She sharpens pencils and writes on a page in a copy book. The pencil point often breaks under her fingers' force. She places broken points outside the window on the sill. A satanic figure is somewhere nearby, animated but of straw or clay, not flesh. She finishes her writing, tears the paper from the pad, folds it, places it in an envelope, and slips it through a slot. Is she writing to her husband? "Sweetheart, come."


Timothy Quay


Movie Reviews

Reviewed by citizen7 7 /10

another haunting work from the Quays

The Brothers Quay are brilliant artists whose body of work, both their puppet films and live action feature Institute Benjamenta, stands as one of the great achievements in cinema. While their new piece In Absentia does not ultimately compare to past masterpieces such as Street of Crocodiles and Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies, it's still a remarkable film that will move the viewer with its hermetic beauty.

A combination of live action and puppet animation, In Absentia details the attempts of a woman to write a letter from within the cracked, faded walls of an asylum, her progress as glacially slow as the movement of the stars. She is doomed to endlessly repeat the steps and be forever left speechless in her cell, while outside a wasteland of waring light and dark reflects her despair.

With a gorgeous score by K. Stockhausen, the film at times feels ever so slightly music video-esque, and one wonders if without the well regarded composer's music it would fall apart rather quickly. But although a lesser work, it is still a fascinating and moving one.

Reviewed by krispatmo N/A


This is by far the scariest combination of images and sounds I've ever experienced, s***-scared I was.

I'd definitely like to see some more by these sick brothers though.

If you like Tool video's, this is what you should be watching.

Reviewed by altereggo123 N/A

Pretty unwatchable

Most of the Quay Brothers films are incoherent. I hope that even their fans would acknowledge this. Telling a clear and compelling story is not what they are good at.

Their films are also quite crude relative to other stop motion animation. I've always been okay with the roughness of their technique, which they say is intentional, though some of it is clearly the result of the lack of resources, staff and time needed to create less choppy animation. Their willful refusal to provide structure or narrative, however, makes their films seem incomplete. They seem more like demonstrations of effects that could be used in a movie.

This film is a depiction of insanity. It is as confused, senseless and repetitive as a crazy, ranting homeless person on a city bus. Many of the visuals are just close-ups -- pencil shavings, pencil leads, dirty fingernails etc. Some are still images. The synthesized music works with the images, but it still feels like student work. It would be fine as an installation in a museum exhibit -- you could look at it for a minute or two and move on -- but seeing it in a theater as I did is not a good investment of time or money. If you like jarring atonal music that goes nowhere and finally ends, you will love this film.

I suppose what the Quays are good at is making old, creepy dolls move around a bit, even if in a clunky way, with narrators growling random phrases in Russian or Polish. This film doesn't even meet that low bar.

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