"Modern Love: Breaching the Seawall" by Adam Wells

Taken from the “Modern Love” column published in The New York Times, Adam Wells animates the story of a woman who falls in love in the Philippines.

The “Modern Love” series published in The New York Times is a mix of hilarious, sad and strange stories about people pursuing love. The animated series is an addition to the popular column and illustrates these stories in fun and unusual ways.

The newspaper commissioned Adam Wells for its latest animation and he illustrated Laurel Fantauzzo’s tale of love and woe. The writer’s submission, “In Manila, Two Seasons, No Regrets”, relates her story of moving to the Philippines, buying a bike and falling in love.

Wells employs an interesting tack in this short: the characters have no faces. Instead, squares and cubes represent Fantauzzo, and circles and cylinders represent the woman with whom she falls in love.

The blue and orange colour palette creates a surprisingly effective contrast. The geometric shapes and angular figures are key to Wells’ contemporary animation style – one that handles a challenging narrative in inventive ways: tears are illustrated with a cascading waterfall; the shapes interlocking into one another like toy blocks represent intimacy.

The story transitions smoothly from one scene to the next with squares and cubes rolling seamlessly into the following frame. Wells’ animation makes otherwise inanimate shapes lively; he also manages to make Manila and the bicycle engaging characters in the story.

When the animation ends, Fantauzzo’s much-loved bicycle, a metaphor for her heart, is disassembled into a pile of parts and the bolts are placed in the palm of her hand.