Everything that we can virtually imagine has an expiration date… doesn’t it? Any product or object will once become broken beyond repair, every experience or state of spirit is transient, and at one point one factor or a combination of factors will make it go away. We often say that we would like things to last forever – eternal life, eternal joyfulness, eternal love – but have to come to terms with the idea that it will likely not happen.
‘Expiration Date‘ is a short animated film that revolves around the concept of love, and the temporal limitations that can often be attributed to it. The feeling of love can be passionate and intense, but chances are that at one point, all this will dissipate, and the tightly-knit bond will expire. In this film, the main character browses the shelves of an Amour store, seeking the one love with an infinite label – one that will never expire.
First of all, ‘Expiration Date’ asks the question of what love is. Naturally, it doesn’t provide an answer, since there is no universally applicable answer. Love means a different thing for each individual, it is a mix of their hopes, dreams, temperaments and past experiences of either love or lack of love. As a non-tangible, non-definable concept, the right kind of love should be eternal – and this is exactly the symbolic object of the character’s search. It is a framework that transcends social, cultural and temporal boundaries and seeks universality from the get-go. Writer and director Shwenn Shunya Chang does an admirable job with his project, managing to portray a complex concept very vividly and showcasing a very artistic, poetic and refined understanding of the subject. While the plot focuses more on the escape from usual temporal limitations, instead of better conceptualising it as a feeling or as a unique entity for each individual, and the visuals kind of follow suit alongside these limitations, this is not a significantly negative issue at all, and does not detract much from the film’s overall enjoyability.
With a soothing, dreamy voice guiding the audience through the story of the man seeking never-ending love, and a wonderfully imagined and edited visual spectacle, ‘Expiration Date’ creates a real harmony between its imagery and audio side – a wonderful symbiosis that aids immersion and provides significant added value as a complementing force. It sometimes relies too much on very experimental-like sequences for its own good, hampering understanding, while at other times it makes use of too many concrete, real-life anchors that establish a given trajectory, thus detracting from its universality. However, Shwenn Shunya Chang’s project remains a solid and creative portrayal of a noble sentiment, one which should leave its audience in a state of contemplation.