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Film Review: Coco

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Up, Toy Story 3 and don't even get us started on Inside Out- some of Disney Pixar most tearjearking masterpieces which remain insightful and joyous as well as making us regret that we didn't bring a box of tissues to the cinema. But now Pixar is back with its newest rival to the kids films that makes us cry when we thought we were just going to see a chirpy musical- Coco.

The latest Disney installment is a beautifully animated, stunningly scripted and magically memorable story of a family living in Mexico, with the youngest in a long line of ancestry struggling to shake the strict traditions of his family's past. Disney parks around the world are already decked out with Mexican themed dining areas and adorned with flags of every colour of the rainbow, with gift shops stacking the shelfs with psychedelic merchandise that manages to be eerie and sweet at the same time. The hype has been building for this one for some time, and it doesn't disappoint. 

Mexican culture is presented beautifully, with the integration of Spanish and English enhancing the rich culture in a remarkably celebratory and sensitive way, smashing boundaries and bringing the past to life. The fascinating history of the Día de Muertos (The Day of the Dead) added such a rich and meaningful element to a Pixar movie, with the plot surrounding the Mexican holiday in which families celebrate and remember the past lives of relatives and friends, and pray for their health, happiness and safe spirtual journeys. Shrines are built in their memory, known as ofrendas, and favourite foods, candles and photographs are displayed of distant friends and relatives. 

The theme of remembrance is perhaps the most poignant of this film, with the desire to be remembered or create a memorable legacy being something that is present within all of us. It led to a heartfelt conclusion in which even the most tough of audience members would shed a tear, whilst still managing to inspire us to be memorable. 

The story breaches the tragic passing of the once mighty musical idol Ernesto De La Cruz, something which is very resonant within Western culture over recent years. With the almost continuous loss of some of the music industry's greats, we tend to fall into the unconditional worship for the figure in mourning, which the film provides an insightful contrast to, and consistently encourages independence of thought. 

The concept and plot of Coco is extraordinary, with an idea that is brilliantly original and filled with entirely unexpected twists and turns, and loveable characters who provided captivating performances. The portrayal of the after life is oddly refreshing, replacing horror motifs of darkness, eerieness and fear with colour, hope and charm, enhancing the appreciation of this rich culture. The Land of the Dead looks like a fun place to live- with spirits, magic and sparkling lights, which is comforting to those relatives that they leave behind. The style is psychedelic, natural and fun, and definitely an original inspiration for next year's Halloween costumes. 

Characterisation is excellently done, with multiple authentic family members who we really believe in and past relatives who provide so much depth to the story. Miguel is a great little frontman, who remains courageous, intelligent and perceptive throughout. Hector, the underdog who lives in the shadow of a forgotten legacy, is the standout hero of the piece, with a paternal charm and charisma that makes him the perfect sidekick for Miguel. 

As for the musical side, there aren't too many and only a couple of stand out hits, but it was the musical accompaniments that stand out as making this one to remember. 'Remember Me' in particular (no pun intended) is a hit which crossed several genres and is particularly moving in the form of a closing lullaby, with the stunningly simple guitar accompaniment. It provides the perfect close to the film, with a gentle brilliance which leaves the audience on a bleary-eyed high. 

The champion of this film has to be the visual effects. This is by far one of Disney's best visual presentations to date, rivalling Moana in its dazzling vibrancy and sheer beauty, and leaving us all heart-eyes-emoji as we travel with Miguel to the Land of the Dead. Characters glide through the scenery with fantasically fluid and captivating movement, with attention to detail and human (and not so human) physical characteristics being illustrated in a process which is second to none. I would encourage anyone to see Coco for the visuals alone, which are nothing short of awe-inspiring. 

The key messages of Coco are the importance of family, the value of music and the encouragement to create a legacy to leave behind, and I think that this film will do just that. 

Coco is out in cinemas now, distributed by Walt Disney Studios.




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