• 16 Dec - 22 Dec, 2017
  • Farheen Jawaid
  • Reviews

There are not a lot of films, be it animated or live action, that have the same magic that a Pixar production has. A magic that is so wonderful that it blows your mind while you see it and leaves a lingering sense of wonderment. That magic of Pixar is made up of stories that captivate and visuals that takes the breath away. Their premises and the course their story takes have clarity and creativity, while maintaining a wholesome attitude. It is a tough magic to do but they do it with grace and charm. Pixar always leaves its young and adult audiences with questions and makes them think subconsciously. What do my toys do when they are not played with? What happens in our subconscious mind? What happens if we let things get out of hands? So, it isn’t a surprise when Pixar talks about death and otherworldly transition in their unique way. They encourage viewers to ask questions, while not letting the intellectual aspects of their premise dictate or overwhelm the story.

Coco begins with an illuminating prologue about the start of the Rivera family – of Mama Imelda Rivera (Alanna Ubach), her husband and her daughter Coco. Mama Imelda is heart broken when her husband abandons his family for a career in music. Because of that, the whole Rivera family takes up shoe-making as their family business and music is banned in their house. No one in their family is allowed to indulge in it. Many years pass, and Mama Imelda is no more. Coco (Ana Ofelia Murguía) is close to senility. She is lost, mostly in familiar old memory, and only recognises her daughter Abuelita (Renée Victor). Abuelita herself, is an old grandma who holds the family together and enforces the music ban. Her grandson Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), however, has different ideas.

A boy of 12 years, Miguel has music on his mind. He has secretly set up a lair that is a shrine to his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), the greatest old time musical actor. Miguel has learned to play the guitar by watching de la Cruz’s old movie VHS cassettes that he has stashed away. Nobody knows of his talent, beside his trusty, street dog Dante. On the Day of the Dead (an annual Mexican festival), Miguel finds a clue that might convince his family to let him follow his passion, but it backfires through fantastic circumstances. Miguel sees dead people and goes into the world of dead, where he meets his family, spirit animals and a shady, desperate spirit called Hector (Gael García Bernal). Despite what one may think, there is a lot of vibrant life in the land of dead.

Coco is delightful. The small village, where Miguel comes from, is as fascinating as the city of the dead and just as comprehensive in its story. The plot has a steady momentum, and every five minutes, there is a new twist and the Pixar-trademarked emotional punch. You see it coming, but you never want to move out of its way. The music by Michael Giacchino sews the rhythm of the story – and while Coco has musical numbers, it never takes the burden of becoming a musical. Directed and written by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina (co-written by Matthew Aldrich), both directors are Pixar veterans, and they don’t do a single thing that made me not like it or question the film’s motives. They have weaved a fantasy engulfed with culture and folklore, that is as fantastic as any fairytale or anything made from the hands of Hayao Miyazaki. So far, I see nothing that stands in the way of Coco this award season.