The Breadwinner (2017)
From the creators of The Secret of Kells & Song of the Sea comes an unexpectedly bleak, depressing & powerfully evocative story that’s crafted with the same passion, devotion & intimacy as their previous works, and paints a dark, disturbing & daring portrait of life under the regime of terror.
Based on the novel of the same name, the story of The Breadwinner takes place in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and follows a headstrong young girl who, following the wrongful arrest of her father by the terrorists, disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family, and ultimately embarks on a quest to find him.
Directed by Nora Twomey, The Breadwinner finds Cartoon Saloon this time stepping away from its Celtic roots to lend its creative voice to a real-life issue. Twomey’s composed direction keeps the innocence alive at its heart but doesn’t sway away from showing the terror that these people, especially women, were subjected to on a daily basis.
More suited to grown-ups than children, the film retains the childlike simplicity in its animation, bringing its patented geometrically satisfying sketches to life when telling the stories within the story, but the mood stays grim with an actual sense of danger hovering at all times while its proximity with the real world situation only magnifies its emotional impact.
Characters are as compelling as they are lifelike, thanks to some sensible writing, and the proper handling of their arcs makes it easy for us to relate to the restricted lifestyle forcibly imposed upon them. Voice actors do well with what they are given, breathing soul into these hand-drawn caricatures. And the score by Michael & Jeff Danna is grounded in Middle-Eastern roots and beautifully complements the story.
The fantastical tales the film keeps returning to every now n then does bottleneck the narrative flow at times and though the plot may have been almost as effective without them, The Breadwinner is all about the power of stories and their ability to sustain hope & carry people through dark times. These fables help our protagonist draw her strength through them but they themselves are not as involving as her journey.
On an overall scale, The Breadwinner is another impressive feature from the Irish animation studio that not only establishes them as a strong creative force in world cinema but also catapults them into the same league as Pixar, Laika & Studio Ghibli. Arresting, enchanting & thoroughly captivating, Cartoon Saloon’s third feature film is another winning effort that brings its riveting tale to life with utmost honesty and delivers a cinematic experience that’s richly rewarding & endlessly moving.