Disney’s 60th animated film is a celebration from start to finish. The audience is immediately drawn into a whirlwind of colour, traditional costumes, local foods, sounds and expressions pertaining to Colombian culture. The protagonist is Mirabel Madrigal, a kind, intelligent young girl who lives with her extended family in a magical house that communicates with its inhabitants by moving objects around. Each member of the Madrigal family is bestowed with a special power, and the matriarch Abuela ensures that these supernatural gifts are used to assist the community.
But when the time comes for Mirabel to receive her superpower, things don’t pan out as expected, and she resigns to her fate as the black sheep of the family. It soon transpires, however, that her gifted relatives live in fear and anxiety, especially when there are clear signs that the magic may be wearing off. The young heroine sets herself a mission to find out what might be threatening the magical force that supports her household, and the quest leads her to dangerous places and new perspectives.
It’s impossible not to be dazzled by the Encanto‘s vibrant explosion of colour and be uplifted by the irresistibly cheerful music. The animation is remarkable and the action provides all the fun one expects from a Disney feature. If anything, there is an overload of stimulation, especially at the start when the characters, backstory and setting are all introduced in the opening song.
While the film is certainly captivating in many ways, especially for a younger audience (who will not get a chance to get bored), there is something missing at its core. The storyline is not quite as satisfying as all its other elements, and the premise at its foundation – including how the magic comes about and how it functions – is not convincing. The plot seems constructed to try and tick as many boxes as possible to fit the ideal of a perfect Disney film. On the surface, Encanto succeeds in achieving this status, but at its heart it’s missing a solid, powerful narrative and it lacks soul, which makes it hard to be invested in the characters’ fates.
Nevertheless, its depiction and celebration of Colombia is delightful, and although the film doesn’t quite stir the heart, it is beyond a doubt thoroughly entertaining.
Encanto is released nationwide on 24th November 2021.
Watch the trailer for Encanto here: