[Coco was nominated in the Best Animated Feature Film category at the Academy Awards 2018.]
The trailer of Coco seemed to me to be bright and happy and intriguingly heartwarming. There’s music, there are smiles, there are tears, there’s anger, there are people who you can relate to, and then, there are skeletons in the closet. When I say skeletons in the closet, I mean it in the most honest, literal way ever. And oh, what a terrific combination this turns out to be!
Coco is about 12-year-old Miguel Rivera, a little boy in the small Mexican village of Santa Cecilia. Miguel’s family shuns music, thanks (or no thanks) to Miguel’s great-great-grandfather who left his wife, Imelda, to pursue a career in music. Imelda, angered at the betrayal, bans music and turns to shoemaking, a business that has since continued in the family. Imelda has long passed but her daughter, Coco, Miguel’s great-grandmother, still lives and is suffering from memory loss that comes with old age. But Miguel loves music, his idol being Ernesto de la Cruz, a singer of Imelda’s time.
But when, on Dia de Muertos, a talent show is announced, Miguel’s plans to participate are squashed when his grandmother, Elena, smashes his guitar to the ground. Angered, he runs away to the talent show with a picture of Imelda and her family that he damaged earlier. He is there told that he must have an instrument to perform. His is disheartened and approaches the statue of Ernesto de la Cruz to draw strength. But it is there that he puts together that the greatest Mexican musician of all time is his great-great-grandfather. Gaining hope from this, he decides to steal de la Cruz’s guitar to take part in the show.
What follows is an emotional chaos that is heartening to watch.
The concept of the movie revolves around Day of the Dead, a Mexican festival that celebrates their ancestors by placing their pictures on private altars called ofrendas. It shows how there is actually a land of the dead and how, when we honor our ancestors, they do actually hear it and appreciate it as much as we want them to. Maybe more. And because of this, Coco turns from being just a boy in search of ways to bring out his talent to a movie that tells you to remember your roots.
Coco is a beautiful mixed bag of revelations that takes imagination to a whole new level altogether. Who would have thought that this tradition could have been brought out as a story? Who could have thought that such brightness could hold such sorrow and such darkness hold such joy? It’s so beautiful and warm that one could run out of superlatives trying to describe Coco.
Pixar has been on top of the animation game for a long time now. And it doesn’t look like they are going to stop being there any time soon. It would be a shame if they did. Till the time they keep bringing out visual and dramatic masterpieces such as this, our world will remain being quirky and interesting. Coco is a breakthrough in terms of adapting traditions to the large screen. From talking about feelings of inanimate objects to exploring post-death existentialism, Pixar knew what it was doing and this is
With its all Latino cast that brings an authenticity to the story and the characters, Coco brings a lot of clarity to the Mexican culture with a touching sensitivity. The visuals of skeletons might be jarring for children at first, but once the beauty of the story starts (pretty soon, in my opinion), the whole experience becomes one-of-a-kind. There are so many beautiful lessons to learn from the movie, not only for children, but for us adults as well. God knows we need it more than kids do these days.
The end of Coco is not hard to guess. But the movie is made to make your heart clench, to make you cry. You’d never had thought that you could see things in the way Coco portrays them. It is unwavering in the way it owns the tenderness through the rage, the joy through the sorrow, and the sorrow through the happiness.
If you want to watch a reassuring movie that quells your doubts about tradition and family, or if you are just on the lookout for a feel-good blockbuster, Coco is the one to watch.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Until next time, keep reading, keep watching, and add melodrama to your life. 🙂