Saturday, February 18, 2017

[Review] The Red Turtle

In a co-production between Japan's renowned Studio Ghibli and Dutch animator-director Michael Dudok de Wit, The Red Turtle is a major change of pace within the animation world. The quiet, dialogue-free film is both remarkably minimal and as vastly moving as the ocean. It's truly a meditative wonder of rich, visual storytelling.

The tale revolves around a man who gets stranded on a deserted island after a shipwreck. At first, the film feels like a 2D blend of Castway and Life of Pi (I'd throw in Swiss Army Man too if it weren't for the fart factor), as we see the guy's desperation, exhaustion, and loneliness. But when a big red sea turtle shows up ashore, everything changes...

The film is presented in charming and primal hand-drawn animation, set with earthy tones and scenic views of equatorial nature--from deep green jungles to sandy beaches crawling with timid crabs. Sometimes the visuals drift into dreamy black & white nighttime sequences, giving off hallucinatory and existential vibes. It's all aided by a gorgeous (but not overpowering) musical score.

Even though the film's runtime doesn't eclipse 80 minutes, it still might test the patience of some viewers, but that patience will be greatly rewarded. What begins as a somewhat typical island survival story, gracefully transforms into a surreal yet universal tale of humankind, nature, and life.

( 8/10 )

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