Boy & The World

February 22, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ½

“Boy & The World” is halfway to an almost perfect film. Originally released in 2014, this Brazilian movie has been nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars and it’s easy to see why. Drawn almost entirely in what appears to be colored pencils and chalk, it is like nothing I have seen before. Stick figures inhabit a largely empty canvas, with most of the scenes occurring against a stark white backdrop. The end result is that the color that does appear on screen is riotous and explosive. Coupled with an amazing, thumping soundtrack, the film is a sheer, visceral joy. Yet, as perfect as that part of the film is, it stumbles when it comes to the story line. There is no real dialogue in the film at all (only a few lines of what appear to be an indecipherable dialect), leaving the entire meaning of the story to be gleaned from the pantomime of the characters. This isn’t necessarily a problem. The animated French film “The Illusionist” from 2010 did it brilliantly (you can read my brief review here by scrolling down the page). Yet, that film had a very traditional and discernible story arc. This one does not. A boy and his family live in an idyllic jungle but his father must leave for the city. The boy then goes on a fantastical and allegorical journey to find him. His journey takes him through some provocative and truly beautiful images but it is never quite clear what we are seeing. Later, when the film takes a decisively political bent, it becomes much clearer that we are seeing social commentary about class, war, deforestation, fascism, and a host of other social ills. But, while clearer, this section feels like a hammer to the head; all of the lyrical magic of the earlier film are erased. This movie was so lovely in so many ways. If it can just told a simply story with those images and that music, it would have been close to perfect.

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