“Finding humour in something painful allows me to digest it”: Inari Sirola’s new film Eating in the Dark uses absurdity to tackle big topics

With snakey dildos and floppy noses, Inari Sirola’s film Eating in the Dark revels in its wackiness.

Date
6 June 2022

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In August of last year we covered Inari Sirola’s ingenious work. There, she gave us a sneak preview for her upcoming film Eating in the Dark. We waited on tenterhooks, and with the film now released, it’s safe to say that it’s lived up to every expectation. With snakey dildos and blobby characters in abundance, the film transports you to the strangest and most intriguing of universes. But, whilst undoubtedly full to the brim with weirdness and humour, the film has numerous layers, delving into the subject of debilitating anxiety, self-doubt and unhealthy relationships. “Finding humour in something painful allows me to digest it,” Inari begins, “making things ridiculous, silly, and funny can be the best and most cathartic way of handling these themes.”

Some of the more difficult and reflective elements of the film are rooted in its very beginnings. In 2019 Inari was accepted into the Royal College of Arts Kyoto Exchange Programme. Having always dreamt of moving to Japan – a place she had loved since childhood – the relocation initially seemed the perfect scenario. But, there was one aspect of her course that for Inari created a “surprising dynamic”. “I was the only animator amongst sculpture and fine art students, which formed an atmosphere where my art was not real or ‘cool’, and insincere or commercial,” she explains. Having previously been working among other animation directors in London, where animation “was seen in the most wonderful light”, the experience damaged Inari's confidence. “This all brought up old feelings and insincerity I hadn't felt for a long time,” she says. “Slowly through all this, I came to realise how fragile a person’s identity can be, and how confidence is very complex, layered and often connected to the context you are in. Ultimately, I wanted to illustrate these feelings and topics in this film.”

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Inari Sirola: Eating in the Dark (Copyright © Inari Sirola, 2022)

This sentiment is captured perfectly in one poignant scene of the film. In the sequence, the central character lies in a bath, trying out a sex toy for the first time – an exciting yet slightly bewildering experience. The moment is then interrupted by a messenger from Lover, after which a barrage of overwhelming texts follows. Here, Inari wanted to capture “this expected nurturing nature in a relationship that often falls on women”. Despite originally thinking that the scene may be too long, or even “boring”, it’s one to which Inari has experienced the most reaction. “People have related to the dynamic, recognised an unhealthy relationship from their past and understood the quiet and heavy atmosphere. This was the most surprising and rewarding feedback I’ve gotten,” she adds.

If there’s one stylistic element that stands out in Inari’s work, it’s her brilliant characterisation. Favouring character designs that aren’t ‘realistic’, but have realistic features, her characters have a recognisable and archetypal alien quality whilst still having a clear Inari touch. “I’ve tried designing characters without my signature floppy nose, but whenever I do that I feel like something is missing,” Inari says. “That’s something that drives my character design a lot. The more serious a topic, a more ridiculous the character.” Inari’s most humorous and suitably floppy nosed character makes a guest appearance in the film’s conclusion. Wanting to end with something “purely ridiculous”, Inari chose to eschew a particularly serious, or dramatic commentary on the film’s previous content. “In the end I wanted to have something that would surprise the viewer, make them feel intrigued and amused, while still suggesting something meaningful behind it.” A truly bizarre but utterly wonderful ending that you really don’t want to miss, it really is the cherry on top.

GalleryInari Sirola: Eating in the Dark (Copyright © Inari Sirola, 2022)

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Inari Sirola: Eating in the Dark (Copyright © Inari Sirola, 2022)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in illustration, photography, ceramic design and platforming creativity from the north of England.

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