Read the Disney animation review

Disney heroines are always under pressure. Whether it’s the weight of a crown, representing the family in war, or getting the dream job through thick and thin, the female protagonists of the studio’s animations tend to draw, on screen, an arc of conciliation and liberation from the expectations that weigh on them. . Mirabel, central figure of Charm, is not so different in this sense – but the film of Jared Bush, Byron Howard and Charise Castro Smith is ingenious in extending this arc beyond itself and finding social resonance there.

Charm is the story of the Madrigal family, whose members undergo a sort of coming-of-age ceremony in which they receive special abilities such as super strength, super hearing, and control over wildlife and the flora. Mirabel (voice of Stephanie Beatrice in English) was the only one not empowered when her time came, which worries the Alma family matriarch (Maria Cecilia Botero), and the entire village that the Madrigals have built around their equally magical abode.

Essentially, the story the film tells is about how the pressure of perfection can suffocate, how a life of service to others can lead to self-forgetfulness and neglect. Louisa (Jessica Darrow), one of Mirabel’s cousins, even has a fabulous solo musical number that explains this speech, perhaps the best composition of Lin-Manuel Miranda in (another) prolific year for the creator of hamiltonwhich is complemented by some of the most daring stylistic flights of Disney animation in years.

It is a strong text in itself, no doubt, but the true richness of Charm this is how he situates this specific narrative within the Colombian (i.e. Latin) setting where the story takes place. The film raises the idea of ​​the “model minority”, which positions the success or prosperity of the individual members of any minority as an example to follow, an ideal to achieve, for all who are part of it – which not only replaces a sense of community with a sense of competition, but also places on the successful individual an expectation of perfection that is unrealistic and unbalanced with what is required of people in the same position who do not belong to minorities .

Signed by directors Bush and Castro-Smith, the script for Charm it is an impassioned appeal to real humanity, complete with its Latin characters. The film speaks of a humanity that recognizes and includes the extraordinary talents of the Madrigals, but also their most common concerns and anxieties, the most wicked intrigues that exist between them, the most serious misunderstandings that form the fabric of any family. The convergence of all these imperfections, in fact, is what forms the thrilling journey the film builds – it’s that cardinal rule of good storytelling: no conflict, no story.

Around all this rhetorical gymnastics, it is worth mentioning, Charm it is also a visual marvel. One of the most interesting aspects of the film is how it takes place almost entirely inside the Madrigals’ home, with a few forays into the village – while finding ways to expand and diversify the space. to convey the same feeling of epic adventure as a Raya and the last dragonwho built a whole fantastic world at the the Lord of the Rings and Avatar: The Legend of Aang.

Colored with generosity and imbued with real dynamism, expressed by musical scenes (and action!) staged with lightness and creativity, Charm is one of the works, otherwise The work richest and most satisfying to come out of Disney’s animated studios this century. Few films better testify to this maxim that, in art, “diversity brings quality” – especially when the various creators in question are free to testify to their fabulous humanity, their faults and all.

Year: 2021


Duration: 99 minutes

Direction: Charise Castro-Smith, Byron Howard, Jared Bush

Road map: Charise Castro-Smith, Jared Bush

Cast: Angie Cepeda, Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo, Maluma, Wilmer Valderrama

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