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Boy & the World

Nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 88th Annual Academy Awards

More often than not, this past decade, the Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars, serves up a beautiful surprise from a foreign land. Last year gave us the gorgeous, Japanese epic, “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”, from Studio Ghibli. And 2011 brought the superb, Cuban love story, “Chico & Rita”. So, while 2015 will almost certainly be owned by Disney (again), with “Inside Out” grabbing the Animated Feature Academy Award, there is a wonder from Brazil–that almost no one is talking about. It shouldn’t shock anyone, that I think the brilliant “Anomalisa” should grab 1st place come February 28th. But “Boy & the World” would most likely be my runner up, edging ahead of the fine eventual Pixar victor. Director and writer Ale Abreu is officially on my radar.

The plot description of “Boy & the World” (or, “O Menino e o Mundo”) is a brief one, because the film is really all about its astonishing images and social commentary metaphors. There is almost zero dialogue, and the running time is under 80 minutes. Cuca is a young boy, living in a strange land, in a small village. Needing work, his father heads away on a train one day, leaving Cuca and his mother alone to tend to the family farm. What follows is a journey of confusion, longing, and imagination for Cuca, as he embarks on a dreamlike journey, while awaiting his father’s return.

“Boy & the World” is hand-drawn, extremely colorful, and driven by its music more than any spoken words. It lists a vocal cast of Vinicius Garcia, Lu Horta, Felipe Zilse, Marco Aurelio Campos, and Ale Abreu himself, but the entire script could be written on an index card. Which is all the more remarkable, as the film tackles the plight of immigrants, and the working class, with its extremely insightful visual palette. It’s an intoxicating melange, but it’s fiercely angry too, in its rich vs. poor trajectory, while a little boy longs for his dad. The energy level is high, and people and objects are often represented by simple, geometrical shapes. It’s an intoxicating put-down of industry and finance. Plus, it’s a wonderful and mesmerizing journey. And you’d be crazy to miss it.

Grade:  A-

next review up:  “When Marnie Was There”


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