Roush Review: Come ‘Undone’ in a Surreal Animated Fantasy
What time is it? Best not to ask Alma (Rosa Salazar), the sardonic and frequently disoriented heroine of Undone, a fascinating adult animated fantasy that’s anything but a cartoon.
“Do you ever feel like you’re in a play, except you’re the only one that knows it’s a play?” wonders Alma, who’s numbed herself into an existential funk when first introduced. “We’re broken people,” she tells her disgruntled sister (Angelique Cabral). “And broken people break people.”
And this is before Alma is even broken. Soon enough in this absorbing half-hour series (and bonus points for economical storytelling), from Bojack Horseman‘s Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Alma’s temporal reality keeps shifting and cosmically breaking, following a traumatic car accident that may have been engineered by her long-dead scientist dad (Better Call Saul‘s Bob Odenkirk).
“I feel like I’m caught in a weird loop,” Alma declares as she emerges from a coma, carrying on conversations with the specter of her father and occasionally floating in space while trying to piece back together her very messy life. Undone manages somehow to be both surreal and yet strangely hyper-real, a sensation enhanced by the technique of rotoscope animation, which traces live-action actors (all terrific) against oil-painting backgrounds to shimmering, hypnotic effect.
The fantasy of Undone would be less effective if Alma weren’t so grounded in a real world, and the character’s hearing impairment—she wears an implant that she occasionally shuts down for the sake of clarity–adds to her sense of isolation and detachment. Like Alma, the viewer is kept constantly on edge, wondering what’s actually happening. Is the ghost of Alma’s father really teaching her to hone her gifts, which could allow her to time-travel and solve or possibly prevent his murder? Or is she losing her mind, a trait possibly inherited by a grandmother who was schizophrenic?
Whatever is behind her trippy journey, it’s one well worth taking.
Undone, Series Premiere, Friday, September 13, Amazon Prime Video