REVIEW: The Breadwinner

This is the third installment of Taylor’s “Final [Film] Countdown of 2017,” in which he rushes to watch as many good movies from 2017 as possible before the year’s Oscars ceremony.

The Breadwinner is a gorgeous animated film about Padwana, a young girl in 2001 Afghanistan who disguises herself as a boy when her father is arrested by the Taliban. Animation is typically associated with kids films, but while this movie could be seen by children, it’s certainly rich enough for adults. The film explores institutionalized sexism, Islam and even the effect of the war on terrorism on everyday non-terrorists.

Much like CocoThe Breadwinner’s chief competition at this year’s Oscars–the film is not particularly subtle in its emotional beats, but it hits them effectively and hard. You know exactly what the movie wants you to feel, but boy does it make you feel those emotions anyway. (Spielberg films have a similar effect, in my experience.) Padwana’s story, told alongside another folk narrative that ultimately ties in surprisingly well, is exciting, unpredictable and very interesting.

The film also shines in making its location feel lived in. I feel like I understand the dynamics of Afghanistan better after watching this movie. Obviously, I’m no expert–and maybe the film’s depiction is inaccurate. But the lived-in experience of everyday people feels genuine and authentic. The movie skillfully displays the Taliban as menaces and nuisances even to the faithful Muslims of Afghanistan, albeit common menaces (the same way we might imagine violent gangsters in major American cities).

Ultimately, The Breadwinner is a great animated film that people of all ages will enjoy. In a review, I saw someone answered “You will like this movie if…” with the simple “…you like good movies.” I couldn’t agree more.

Best Part: The folk tale animation, often deployed in clever ways.

Worst Part: The movie is a bit “obvious” at times, although it’s still emotionally effective.


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