Director: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renee Victor, Jaime Camil, Alfonso Arau
Written by: (also original story) Adrian Molina, Matthew Aldrich, (original story) Lee Unkrich and Jason Katz
Running Time: 105 mins
Release date: 19th January 2018
Mexico has been in the news a great deal recently, particularly for reasons even they as a nation wouldn’t want. So how refreshing to get something positive from that country, courtesy of Disney/ Pixar with Coco, a tale set around the legendary Day of the Dead, in which Mexican community celebrate those who have passed away and aids in remembering them. Pixar, whose last film, Cars 3, wasn’t the monster success they hoped for, have delivered the kind of film only they as a studio can produce. A thing of beauty as well as film with so much heart and soul it will have in wonder one moment, laughing then blubbering without any warning.
Miguel, a young boy who dreams of being a musician, lives with a family who has banned music ever since his great-grandmother Coco’s father left her and her mother to pursue a career in song. Wanting to enter a talent contest held on the eve of The Day of the Dead, Miguel, without a guitar, steals the one that used to belong to the legendary singer and local hero, Ernesto de la Cruz. Once played, Miguel finds himself in the land of the dead, surrounded by his relatives who have passed and a search for Coco’s real father begins.
As you would expect from Pixar, the animation is exceptional and puts other animation studios to shame. Every new film they produce, they push the boundaries further away from their competitors and this is no exception. It is glorious in its wash of colour and vibrancy. Not in the vomit inducing, sugar-coated way either. These colours are easy on the eye, merging with the scenery and never so bright to give anyone over 5 a headache. The designs are incredible, especially when we enter the Land of the Dead. a vast world where trams fly across the sky transporting the dead to their various destinations.
Where Pixar have really developed is in the humans. The dead, a collection of skeletons, are imaginatively created and some used to good comic effect but it’s the humans that have really come along. The attention to detail on their movements, their expressions and even their general look. Pixar has always admitted that humans were the hardest to create but there this is the closest they have got to getting them looking like humans. Give them a few years and they will be making films in which we will believe we are watching real actors.
The story is one brimming with delights, from the imaginative way they deal with heavy subject matters to the unobtrusive use of comedy. Jokes are never hammered home but come, are played out and then we move on. Miguel’s search in this impressive land is both exciting and touching, while the characters develop so well we genuinely care what happens to them. Miguel is a charming innocent who carries the story and he never once becomes annoying so you long for him to succeed in his plight.
Where the film scores highly are it’s handling of some weighty issues like dementia and death. Like the brilliant My Life as a Courgette, it faces this matters fully without talking down to its audience or brushing it to the side. It’s message is that we should never forget those who have gone, while Coco, a woman in the twilight years of her life, struggles to remember her family around her. It’s these moments that break your heart and by the end, you are riddled with both joy and devastation. Yes, Pixar has managed to make an animation so real it breaks your heart.
Pixar’s recent releases have been of mixed quality but this is them back on form. A film that can sit proudly next to it’s finest films, Up, Finding Nemo and the Toy Story trilogy. It is a magical piece of art that other film companies can only watch in the distance and wonder how they do it. Coco is a thing of beauty in every sense of the word.