$9.99—The Meaning of Life

Rated 4.0

This dour stop-motion feature is not going to help baby-sit anyone’s restless children, but it is a fascinating and unusual watch for adult fans of animation. Directed by Australian Tatia Rosenthal and based on stories by Israeli author Etgar Keret, $9.99—The Meaning of Life is an ensemble piece about the metaphysically mixed-up inhabitants of a Sydney apartment complex. The characters—among them an emotionally numb single father (Anthony LaPaglia); his lazy but well-meaning son; and a crusty, mooching “angel” (Geoffrey Rush)—are placed in an appropriately dingy milieu, but the stories inevitably veer toward the fantastic. Themes of transference and transmogrification give color to these deceptively simple tales of loneliness and yearning, creating a world in which a $10 book about the meaning of life is less useful than one that teaches you how to swim like a dolphin.