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Issue 1790 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London


Keep the Cat Free


Film Review: Encanto

Enchanto is a Columbian word for “enchantment”, and after watching it last weekend, I can say that the name fits.

Encanto poster Photo: Disney

Film

in Issue 1790

Encanto

★ ★ ★ ★
Director
Jared Bush. Byron Howard
Year
2021
Starring
Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo

Enchanto is a Columbian word for “enchantment”, and after watching it last weekend, I can say that the name fits. Animation technology has come a long way since my first watch of Aladdin on VCR in 2004, and it shows in this masterpiece.  

The main character, Mirabel Madrigal (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), is the second youngest grandchild in a family blessed with a MiracleTM. The Miracle has historically provided a safe haven from looters and blessed all members of the family with various powers that are used to help the rest of the town. All members of the family except Mirabel, of course - for how would we get invested in a classic fairytale if the main character didn’t have a tragic backstory?  

The backstory is well developed, explaining quite early on how the isolated town came to be, and everything else is attributed to the Miracle. However, the plot is in so much disarray that viewers are left with more questions than answers as the movie progresses. Scenes shift between each other without care for continuity of the narrative.  

There are certainly tear-jerking scenes, but despite terrific buildup, an abrupt change in scene to a "happy" one ruins more than a few moments.  

While the pretty scenes of the far-off mountains distinctively remind you of Lilo and Stitch, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of moral parable other than “family sticks together”, which Lilo and Stitch have already covered quite well - or, as might well be the case, there are too many moral lessons that can be taken from each scene that it confuses the message.  

There were too many characters attempting to play the role of protagonist, with an especial focus on their powers - perhaps to further highlight that the other members of Mirabel’s family had made their powers their personality over their ties to each other.  

With songs written by Broadway Musical Hamilton creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, I was expecting a bit more than eight songs squashed in together - some being absolute bops, and others being even less memorable than the three random children who contributed nothing but vague commentary after the first song “Meet the Madrigals”.  

Now, “Meet the Madrigals” is somewhat bouncy to listen to, but the star of the entire movie is “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”. If you haven’t yet heard of it, you were busy with January exams. I still promise it is worth a listen. Bruno (Mirabel’s maternal uncle) is the black sheep of the family - seer of the future, he was asked to investigate the future of the Miracle and family Madrigal after Mirabel failed to obtain power when she came of age. He has not been seen since that fateful night.  

Back to “We don’t talk about Bruno”, the characters talk about Bruno - did you expect any less? Without revealing too many details, the visual and musical aspects of this song blend in so well together that I would not be surprised if it ended up winning a prize.  

Musicality aside, the movie nonetheless leaves a bitter aftertaste, as too much is very abruptly revealed in the last twenty minutes of the movie through flashbacks and vague reassurances that “the Miracle is you.”  

Not to fret, there are still comedic moments - the guy who makes the spackle puts a pail on his head to protect it as he headbutts the walls of a crumbling house, an aspiring novella director with wayward actors, and of course, the capybara who does not care about your 'special' circle of sand. 

This movie is a feat for the eyes and ears, but certainly not for the brain - I would recommend watching it after gruelling coursework, or at a point where your brain is comfortable with nothing of the storyline making sense. 

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