Turning Red

Review by Rich Cline | 4/5

Turning Red
dir Domee Shi
prd Lindsey Collins
scr Julia Cho, Domee Shi
voices Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho, Tristan Allerick Chen, Lori Tan Chinn, Lillian Lim, James Hong, Finneas O'Connell
release US/UK 11.Mar.22
22/US Pixar 1h40

chiang oh lee

Is it streaming?

Priya, Meilin, Miriam and Abby
Once again, Pixar crafts an entertaining, comical adventure about deeper emotions, this time exploring a perky young teen's sense of self-identity. Like Inside Out with an international twist, this lively, colourful film deserved a big-screen release, although Disney released it online (see also Luca). And it has a lot to say to audience members of all ages, even as it finds ways to keep us amused and even thrilled.
At 13, Meilin (Chiang) is an overachiever at home, school and at the Toronto temple her parents Ming and Jin (Oh and Lee) run to celebrate their Chinese heritage. Living up to the high expectations of her mother, Meilin is just beginning to feel the pull of loyalties to her best pals Miriam, Abby and Priya (Morse, Park and Ramakrisnan) when her hormones kick in. And for Meilin, this reveals a big family secret, as she transforms into a huge, furry red panda whenever her emotions surge. Which is pretty much all the time.
Director Shi maintains a terrific sense of the internal life of a girl entering puberty, so everything that happens feels like the end of the world. Meilin's collisions with Ming are particularly cataclysmic, cleverly capturing the fact that almost everything that happens is perceived as hugely mortifying, from her unwanted attraction to random classmates to her fan-girl obsession with boy band 4*town (with terrific songs by Billie Eilish and Phinneas O'Connell). That her offbeat set of friends keeps her grounded is also beautifully observed.

The script has a distinct female sensibility, focussing particularly on mother-daughter connections (if Ming is imperious, her own mother, voiced by Cho, is downright terrifying). Lee's Jin is the only male character with depth, but everyone on-screen is so vividly written and voiced that viewers of any age and gender can identify with their internalised issues. Visually, the film is a riotously energetic mix of bright hues and tactile textures that reference anime flourishes while knowingly echoing the immigrant experience.

In some ways, this is Pixar's take on the Studio Gibli formula of telling a female-led tale that uses magic to reveal deeper, more resonant themes about the power of individuality. This gives the film a proper kick of resonance. And it's also a rare family-friendly movie that openly takes on the arrival of adolescence in all its glory, from the physical changes to the urge to break free from parental influence and celebrate the furry beast that you've just discovered lives right there inside you.

cert pg themes, violence 14.Mar.22

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S

send your review to Shadows... Turning Red Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.

© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall