Coco – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina
Starring the voices of: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Edward James Olmos
In cinemas January 19th
While Mexican Day Of the Dead may not be fully celebrated in this part of the world chances are you have definitely heard of it. It featured in the opening of the James Bond blockbuster Spectre and has also featured in popular shows such as Glee and Family Guy. It is a day when people honour their departed family members and features a lot of colourful celebrations.
This film is set around those festivities and sees a 12 year old aspiring musician called Miguel (Gonzalez) finding himself trapped in the Land of the Dead. He is forced to seek the help of his late great-great-grandfather in order to get back to the Land of the Living before sunrise or he will be trapped there forever. That may sound rather simplistic but that is the plot in a nutshell although there are plenty of tangents and adventures as Miguel tries to navigate his way home.
Since this is a Disney Pixar production it goes without saying that it looks stunning. The animation is top notch and even the skeletal figures in the afterlife are extremely expressive despite not having fully fledged features for the animators to play with. It is as colourful as the festival itself and feast for the eyes. And of course there are the songs. Which are simply wonderful. They are definitely a couple of earworms in there that you will be humming for days.
This is a story that will resonate universally even if you’ve never heard of Day of the Dead. At its heart it’s a story about family, culture, legacy, life and death. This might sound rather heavy for what is essentially a family film but it is handled thoughtfully. It always feels incredibly sincere even in moments where it drags somewhat. It handles death in a touching, entertaining and non-patronising way that will inform rather than upset your little ones. It is surprisingly moving and affecting even for those who are far more knowledgeable about the subject matter than their junior counterparts and will definitely bring a lump to the throat of even the hardest hearted cynic.
A wonderful insight into an amazing Mexican tradition this should raise a smile and leave you with a spring in your step. It may seem surprising given the subject matter but this is a joyous and life affirming movie.