In Review

Film review: Encanto 

Animated Disney musical about an unusually ordinary girl

The bespectacled heroine of Disney’s latest animated musical has one “radical” characteristic, said Kevin Maher in The Times: she’s “unexceptional”. She is a member of a “flamboyant Colombian family” in which every person has a familiar kind of gift – super-strength, the ability to control the weather, and so on. But Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), has nothing going for her beyond a “quirky, imperfect and slightly cerebral sense of fun”. When an old family curse is unleashed, however, and the Madrigal clan – ensconced in a vast country mansion that brings to mind the institute in X-Men – are stripped of their superpowers, Mirabel comes into her own. 

The computer animation in this “brilliant” film is some of the best we’ve seen in years, said Maya Phillips in The New York Times. The colours are fabulous, and “precious details” such as the embroidery on skirts have been “meticulously woven”. As for the score – by Lin-Manuel Miranda – it is “spellbinding”, combining salsa, bachata and hip hop played on traditional Colombian folk instruments. In this and other ways, the film shows a “robust engagement with, and respect for, Latino culture” in all its forms. “Issues of representation” have certainly been “sensitively handled”, said Tara Brady in The Irish Times, but “where is the plot, exactly”? The voice cast is “charming”, and the visuals are “eye-popping”, but there’s “no hint of adventure or jeopardy” to really engage the audience. In the end, this is a film that feels “manufactured by a committee”.

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