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REVIEW: “Boy and the World” Kinda Like An Adult Coloring Book

Just like Anomalisa, this particular film was technically a last minute release in US theaters coming out in December 2015. I didn’t think I’d have a chance to see it but it finally made it’s way to San Francisco for limited screenings. So lets see what Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo) had to offer.

Even though this Brazilian film is nominated for an Oscar this year, it originally debuted back in 2013, but didn’t start making it’s rounds in the film festival circuits until 2014 where it won nominations for Best Animated Film at festivals such as Ottawa International Animation Festival and Festival do Rio. It’s most recent award was Best Animated Feature-Independent at the 43rd Annie Awards.

arting-boyandtheworld-04The film is largely dialogue free even though the screening I attended said it was Portuguese with English Subtitles. I don’t speak Portuguese but I’m convinced it was an in-cohesive language unique to the film’s colorful world. As a result the details of the film are left up to interpretation based on how the characters interacted with each other and with their changing environments.

GKIDS, the film’s US distributer, describes the film as:

Cuca’s cozy rural life is shattered when his father leaves for the city, prompting him to embark on a quest to reunite his family. The young boy’s journey unfolds like a tapestry, the animation taking on greater complexity as his small world expands.

I went in with little to no information on the film other than that “it’s good.” So the art style was a little jarring compared to the mostly realistic 3D worlds that animated features build nowadays. I was also surprised at how attached I became to the little boy, Cuca, after his love of music and adventure was displayed during the opening sequence.

arting-boyandtheworld-01As Cuca goes off to search for his father he meet an old man and his dog, followed by a young man living in the city and a then a friendly musician a part of a vibrant tribe. With each encounter Cuca becomes exposed to a different aspect of his once small world and safe world. The closer he gets to the city the more mechanical the environment becomes. The imagery shines a light on not just consumerism and the rat race of an economy but the struggle between the rich and the poor trying to get by.

The art style changes constantly as Cuca goes along his journey. It opens with potentially the most colorful establishing shots I’ve ever seen using a kaleidoscope effect and continues in to the elementary crayon like jungle and animals surrounding Cuca’s home. The closer to the city he gets the less saturated the settings become and the use of magazine like cutouts akin to those stereotypical random notes increase. But whenever the musician appears everything becomes saturated again and is has a very traditional painted playful feeling to it.

arting-boyandtheworld-03The music plays a huge role in setting the mood and tone of story but the sound effects were equally engaging. I especially enjoyed the sound design for the animal machines roaming around, the firework creatures, and the subtle but extremely endearing voice acting for Cuca. When I say voice acting I mean giggles, muffled noises and different types of breathing which is all they needed.

I will say that even though I didn’t have an issue with the lack of dialogue I know some movie goers will find it frustrating. As pantomime acting/animation always reminds me of my best friend’s mother and her reaction to the first 20 minutes or so of WALL-E. “It was terrible. Nothing but a bunch of beeps and boops.” Did I mention she is blind?

Overall I enjoyed Boy and the World and I can see why it has won so many awards. But I’m not sure if I’d rewatch it as much as say Kung Fu Panda 3. However I’m highly interested in finding out more information on the making of the film since info in English beyond the synopsis is fairly sparse. I can also guarantee that you WILL get the main pan flute notes stuck in your head long after you watch this film.

[Rating 3/5]
Rotten Tomatoes: 96% (7.7/10 average)
[Based on stats as of February 24th 2016]

Release Date: December 11th 2015 (Limited)
Studio: Filme de Papel
80 Minutes | Rated PG
Director: Alê Abreu
Writer: Alê Abreu
Stars: Vinicius Garcia, Lu Horta & Marco Aurélio Campos

Did you get a chance to see Boy and The World? How’d you feel about this mostly dialogue free film? Comment below or tweet me @teriarchibbles!

ARTing is my new column all about animation, graphic novels, and anything in between that is art related. Regular posts coming on Wednesdays.

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