Encanto ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
A young Colombian girl has to face the frustration of being the only member of her family without magical powers. In cinemas now.
Disney’s ability to produce films which can be enjoyed both by grownups and kids alike is really second to none. I went to see Encanto with two different families and six kids and we all had a great time, but it was interesting to notice how we all experienced the film is different ways, each of us picking up different things from it.
In an age of franchises, sequels, remakes, all of which are so overloaded with superheroes and magical creatures, it is incredibly refreshing and original to see such a mature and profound examination of the burden of having (or not having) magical powers.
What’s also striking about the Studios’ 60th animated feature is how it manages to feel both a “classic Disney”, with that elegant and unique warmth and magic, as well as ambitious, innovative and actually quite brave. And this applies to both the visuals and its themes.
Encanto is mainly a film about families and, without giving too much away, repressed emotions.
It is a much gentler film than we are used to, with very few thrills. In fact the more Indiana Joneseque moments are probably the least interesting and noticeably there is no baddie. While this does create some tiny stumbles from a narrative point of view, it is also breeding ground for some wonderful family dynamics and interactions.
The film organically, elegantly, subtly and gently (here’s that word again) reveals details and plot points as it unravels, drawing us closer and closer to all the members of the family, a real ensemble cast, each of them with their own struggles, secrets and dualities. There are no cardboard cut-out characters here.
I’m probably making it sound like it’s hard work, but don’t get me wrong, this is still a dazzling, colourful and fascinating film full of smart ideas. Some of the most successful visual gags concern a house which is living and breathing and has its own personality: genius!
Not to mention its spectacular musical numbers written by the ever-reliable Manuel Lin-Miranda – possibly one of the busiest man in Hollywood these days. Yes, a couple of songs did feel a bit like padding and were not completely necessary, but they were all visually stunning and constantly inventive.
But in the end, beyond the sparkling songs, the huge cast, the magical house and beautiful saturated colours, this is actually a very intimate film with huge heart… and all the better for it.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
Encanto is in cinemas now.
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