A Walt Disney Studios it hasn’t established itself as the Western animation empire for whatever reason – and since the debut of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’, in 1937, almost always delivered perfect and engaging narratives, talking not just with the children, but with anyone who took the time to check out countless productions. Just in the last few years, we’ve had the sequel to ‘Frozen’, which expanded the universe of Elsa and Anna, the incredible journey ‘Moana – A Sea of Adventures’, which introduced the first Polynesian princess of House Mouse, and the impeccable ‘Zootopia’, which deservedly the Oscar of Best Animation – not to mention the amusing story of ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’, which rescued the classicism of the hero’s journey with stupendous visuals.
Now, it’s time to meet the newest character in the Disney family, Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz). A protagonist of ‘Charm’ is a young woman who lives in the mountain community that lends her name to the title of the feature film, a Colombian refuge built with the fantastic powers of a candle whose flame never goes out. The mystic object, delivered to the matriarch Alma (Maria Cecilia Botero) has also given each family member a special gift – such as super-strength, super-hearing, transmutation, and even the ability to predict the future. That is, with the exception of Mirabel herself, who since the first sequence of production poses as the “exile” of the family. However, the power of magic soon begins to fade and call into question the structures that rebuilt the Madrigals, leaving the young heroine to find out what is happening and do everything possible to save those she loves.
It is safe to say that the structure of the film is known to those already used to the “Disney formula”, so to speak. ‘Charm’ is based on the musical genre with full and enviable exuberance, placing the responsibility of the soundtrack in the hands of Germaine franco e do multitalentoso Lin-Manuel Miranda – right away imprinting the sound identity that put him on top of the world with ‘Hamilton’ e ‘Moana’. Unlike so many songs that eternalized the Casa Mouse pantheon, the epic instrumental receives a distinct treatment, in which the orchestral elegance is transformed into a breathtaking party, which includes the use of drawers, guitars, rattles, bass drums, flutes and many others (and here I make special mention of the impeccable tracks “Surface Pressure” e “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, which swim against the tide towards a stunning originality that enhances the plot in the best way).
The names responsible for this new pearl of animation are Byron Howard e Jared Bush – and if you’ve never heard of such names, you might remember the applause ‘Zootopia’, which was under the command of the duo. Longing for yet another Oscar statuette, Howard and Bush dive headlong into Colombian culture and team up with a talented artistic team that demonstrates appreciation and care in every visual aspect, from the vivid costumes to the color palette that accompanies the arc of protagonists and supporting actors (as well as profuse references to chibchas, quimbayas e tairon, indigenous peoples from the country whose aesthetics appear in Madrigal objects and relics). There is a poignant and emblematic naturalism that goes back to the company’s recent 3D animations and that permeates both the lightest and the most subtle aspects of the work, in which the residence itself, engulfed in an amusing personification, follows the mood of Maribel and her family and reflects the problems that lie there.
Of course, we’ve already seen these inflections exploited to the extreme in other Disney titles like ‘Beauty and the Beast’. However, perhaps the mimetic promoted by Howard and Bush was deliberate and, in fact, contributed to the construction of a mythology that will immediately fall in the spectators’ taste for the complex gear it created and the explosive conflict of the characters. And, technicalities aside, it’s remarkable how the cast creates magic with a chemistry that hooks us from the first minutes: Beatriz shows her growing versatility after starring ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ e ‘In a New York Neighborhood’, while the striking voices of John Leguizamo, Diane Guerrero, Wilmar Valderrama and so many others foster a mix of unique personalities that dialogue with the timeless archetypes that guide the heroine.
As we can predict the events of the film – in which the comfort zone, the “cosmos” in which Mirabel has been confined all these years, becomes a kind of battleground for the protection of the family – the script takes advantage of paradigms in which he leans down to paint important themes and which, in an evocative context, reconstruct the harsh history of Colombia and the multiple civil wars that have always accompanied this Latin American people. Alma lost her husband to military personnel who expelled them from their home and, left alone with three newborn children, she rose to face numerous obstacles, which is why her austere presence arouses fear in other members of the family. Incursions into belonging, abandonment and multigenerational conflicts also emerge throughout the film.[display-posts orderby="rand"]
‘Charm’ is the best Walt Disney Studios animation in five years. The narrative may not be the most original, but it is the conduct, the chemistry of the voice actors and the appreciable imagery that transforms what could be another forgettable and disposable adventure into a fight for those who will always be by our side and for the understanding of that each of us is important in the way we came into the world.