Thursday, June 21, 2018

[Review] The Breadwinner

One of last year's Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature, The Breadwinner is a harrowing and beautiful tale of strength and family amidst unforgivingly hostile circumstances.

Parvana (voiced by Saara Chaudry) is a young girl growing up in Afghanistan under the treacherous Taliban rule. After her gentle and loving father is wrongfully arrested and taken away, Parvana cuts her hair and begins dressing like a boy in order to work to support her family. Along the way, she embarks on a strenuous quest to reunite with her father, while using her vibrant imagination to persevere.

Undoubtedly, this is an emotionally-wrenching story, and Parvana is certainly a character that's easy to root for. Directed by Nora Towney, the film shares some of the same whimsy and somber qualities, as well as the immaculate craft of more serious animated films like The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, which are also told from the wide-eyed, determined perspective of a child. There's even shades of the highly-regarded Persepolis here. The film features some graceful animation, elegantly expressing crisply thin lines and smooth, vivid color palettes. The fantastical fable-like sequences that serve as both inspiration for Parvana and as escapes from her brutal reality are particularly striking with their elaborate designs of grandeur and impressively layered, paper-cutout aesthetic.

The Breadwinner all builds to an affecting climax that is intense, triumphant, tragic, and poetic all at once. It's an honest look at atrocities and turmoil, but there is still courage and innocence to be found, and we can only hope that the Parvanas of the world will continue to shine through.

* 8.5/10 *

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