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dir Lee Unkrich
prd Darla K Anderson
scr Adrian Molina, Matthew Aldrich
voices Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Jaime Camil, Alfonso Arau, Ana Ofelia Murguia, Edward James Olmos, Herbert Siguenza, Lombardo Boyar, Natalia Cordova-Buckley
release US 22.Nov.17, UK 19.Jan.18
17/US Pixar 1hr49
It's a wonderful afterlife: Miguel and Hector with faithful pooch Dante
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With a story ostensibly about death, this film is wonderfully life-affirming. Once again Pixar hits that sweet spot between rousing entertainment and resonant storytelling, packing a colourful adventure with characters who feel startlingly real. But then everything about this film is pure magic, from the innovative animation to the way Mexican culture infuses the people, plot and music.
In a Mexican village on the Day of the Dead, young Miguel (Gonzalez) is hiding his musical talent from his music-hating, shoe-making family. He has a special bond with aged Great-grandmother Coco (Murguia), whose father brought shame on the family when he left to pursue his singing career. And as everyone prepares for a night of remembering their ancestors, Miguel finds himself transported into the afterlife, where he has to find Coco's crooning father (Bratt) with the help of a scruffy scamp (Bernal). But his great-great-grandmother Imelda (Ubach) is determined to stop him.
The story unfolds as an epic odyssey during which Miguel makes a series of discoveries that change how he sees himself, his family heritage and his culture. Director Unkrich cleverly maintains the energy with a series of action set-pieces and a genuine sense of dread, gripping the audience tightly. And the most dextrous touch of all is the way Molina and Aldrich's script explores mortality without ever being maudlin. This is a joyous celebration of connections we have with generations that have gone before us.
It's also seriously skilful animation. Much of the imagery is almost photorealistic, adding striking colours and textures to every setting. And the characters all have a vivid physical presence, with weight and movement that feels startlingly real. The vocal work is also first-rate, creating characters with lots of personality, all of whom become more complex the better we get to know them. So their interconnections become so powerful that they can't help but stir grown-up emotions.
Perhaps most impressive is the way Pixar dive so fully into Latino culture, with a glorious collection of songs that seamlessly bridge two languages, as does the dialog. The characters and imagery are deeply soaked in local colour, which gives the film a bracing relevance for anyone in the audience. And while this is never an overt message movie, it has a lot to say about respecting history and tradition while avoiding the temptation to try to control the future. Basically, this is a movie masterpiece that only happens to be animated.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2017 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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