Review: Coco: Engaging and captivating

 25 Nov 2017 - 11:03

Review: Coco: Engaging and captivating
A still from the movie Coco.

By Troy Ribeiro / IANS

Film: "Coco" | Directors: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina | Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Noel Ubach, Renee Victor, Jaime Camil, Gabriel Iglesias, Ana Ofelia Murguia and Edward James Olmos | Rating: ***1/2

"Coco" is a 3D animated, fantasy fiction that is thoroughly enthralling. Filled with fun songs and a rich atmosphere, the film is a visual and emotional delight.

Utterly genuine in concept, assembling and execution, it is an adventure film that casts a magical spell on its viewers -- kids and adults alike -- making them true believers in the human spirit.

Set in the fictional village of Santa Cecilia in Mexico and narrated from a shoeshine boy Miguel's point of view, the film is a shrewdly enduring piece of storytelling whose theme centres on family and dreams.

Miguel is inclined towards music and hopes to become a musician like his idol -- the legendary singer and song-writer Ernesto de la Cruz. But he is forbidden by his family to pursue his hobby simply because his great-great grandfather -- "his great grandma - Coco's dad" -- a musician, had deserted his family. Instead he is coaxed to join his family shoe business.

Miguel realises that his only chance to fulfil his dream is by participating in the singing competition which is to take place on ‘Dia de los Muertos' -- 'The day of the dead' -- where the Mexican families celebrate the dead by honouring and remembering their ancestors. And as we see, the ancestors who are thus remembered come back to visit for the day.

On the day of the celebrations, Miguel accidentally damages his Grandma Imelda's ofrenda, a ritual offering which consists of a photograph with the ripped out visage of his great-great grandfather and stumbles upon the part of a photograph that reveals a guitar in his hands.

Seeing that the guitar is similar to that of Ernesto's, he believes he is a direct descendant of the great musician. And, as he borrows Ernesto's guitar to perform in the contest, he is sucked into the land of the dead, where he meets his ancestors. How he discovers new things about life, death and the importance of family, forms the crux of the tale.

The plot weaves not only about the love of music, but also the desire to be remembered and the importance of remembering. It is a two-sided coin in which Miguel learns the importance of both.

Colourful and imaginative, the film is a roller coaster-ride of emotions. Wrapped in a richly complex theme that is dark to an extent, the storytelling is heart-warmingly twisty. The first act is enticing. The second act drags with clichés that spin on their head. And the third act is fulfilling.

As always with Pixar films, the computer animation with vibrant colours is at its seductive best. Each frame is intricately designed and beautifully conceived by the animators. The two worlds -- that of the living and the dead -- are distinctive, bright, lively and child-friendly.

The voices of the ace star cast hit the right pitch and match the characters to perfection. Michael Giacchino's music has depth and elevates the viewing experience.

Overall, "Coco" is a charming film that you should not miss.