Encanto ★★★

While I still think Disney has far too tight of a grip on the animation industry and mainstream media as a whole, Encanto is an undeniably important film to many people. Its greatest strength lies in its willingness to explore concepts wholly deserving of the attention they rarely receive: generational trauma, feeling alienated from your relatives, immense pressure to perform your assigned role within the family, the list goes on. My grandparents were almost in the exact same situation as Alma and her husband, forced to leave everything behind and escape with their three children after it became too dangerous to remain in their homeland - I won’t lie, the flashback scene hit me like a truck. Dos Oruguitas beautifully replicated the real-life experiences of countless individuals around the world, making me wish the entire film had spent more time portraying the inner workings of first/second gen migrant families and their grandchildren by delving into the unique ways Alma’s trauma was repackaged and passed down onto each of the Madrigals.

Though it can be chalked up to having a big cast and the odd pacing issues in general, I still wish we'd had more chances to become attached to the characters outside of jarring musical segments that rapidly progressed the plot. Really loved “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and of course the aforementioned Dos Oruguitas but the rest of the music is sadly very forgettable. I think Encanto definitely has a problem of way too many songs with unnatural placements that, to be fair, a lot of musicals frequently suffer from. It is also inescapably a Lin Manuel Miranda soundtrack and a noticeable step-down from his work on Moana. 

Now that I’ve got my criticism out of the way:

Dolores and Antonio were so cute!! I liked Isa (despite some frankly excessive cruelty towards her youngest sibling) and empathised with her struggle to maintain a flawless facade at the expense of self-expression. Even with very little screen time together she and Mirabel (and Luisa) were effortlessly more interesting examples of distant/estranged sisters in recent years compared to other animated entries. It’s also super refreshing to see women with big noses/thick eyebrows/square jaws etc. in probably the first time I can recall seeing this many characters who have remotely similar facial features to me in a Disney film. The more I think about it, the more I’d be happy to see a return of the Madrigals in future if it meant further showcasing their family dynamic.

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