“Stories remain in our hearts, even when all else is gone”Review by Lewis Goodall
I’ve always wanted to feel like an eleven year old girl living under the thumb of the Taliban in a 2001 version of Afghanistan, thanks to ‘The Breadwinner’ I can live out that dream through Parvana, the protagonist to our story. After her father is wrongfully arrested by the Taliban, Parvana adopts a shorter hair style to disguise herself as a boy so she can navigate the streets of Afghanistan with no risk of being threatened by the men wondering the streets. Discovering that an old school friend has also cut her hair short to fit in with the crowd, the two of them work their way up to be able to earn enough money so Parvana can help her father escape the clutches of the nasty men that locked him away. With the help of money and her imagination, she pulls strength from the protagonist she manifests in her stories. These two elements combine to help Parvana on her quest to save her father.
Afghanistan is beautifully recreated with stunning animation that creates the world that Parvana lives in. It’s a lost art to actually have 2D animation since disney has pretty much exclusively stuck to 3D so its refreshing to had a more traditional animation and it is pulled off wonderfully. Released In 2017 and directed by Nora Twomey, the story of ‘The Breadwinner is adapted from a novel of the same name and I feel the animation must really done the book justice. I cant speak the book because I font know how to read but I’m sure it did with how nice it is. Considering the theme of the film, it’s at the time a very soothing film, from the colour palette all the way down to the voice acting, it all come together nicely. Parvana, played by Saara Chaudry, portrays a young Afghan very well, I think mainly sure to the fact that she is a young girl from….. Canada and Canadians are good at portraying Afghans, it’s a fact. The star of the show is Parvana’s dad, Nurullah, played by Ali Bashah, has THE most soothing voice I’ve heard in an animated film. The contrast between his calm, molasses pouring out the mouth styled voice compared to the harsh reality of the world around them was lovely.
During the course of the film as Parvana is navigating the many obstacles thrown in front of her in the streets, she is also intermittently telling the story of a young boy who lives amongst a closely packed village. The village is celebrating that they have seeds for next years harvest when they are stolen by tigers for their woolly mammoth leader. The boy in the story goes on a quest to take them back from the mammoth by finding objects that will help him in the final assault to get the seeds back. Every time the story transitions into this side story it offers a new style of animation which is close to south park in the paper cut style but gave me nostalgic flashes for little big planet.
I found myself getting more invested in this side story than I did with the actual story and honestly would’ve enjoyed the film more if it was purely the side story.
I did enjoy the main story but I felt at moments it was quite lacklustre. Having a gorgeous animation didn’t make up for some moments where I found myself losing interest in what Parvana was doing. It felt like moments where fairly repetitive with the interactions between her and her friend, there were moments when the Taliban would bring some Afghanistanian complications but other than that I don’t feel myself going along with their journey because it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s just me but I feel as though I would’ve enjoyed it if it was more of a journey as that’s what I feel the films theme was trying to convey, I feel that’s why I enjoyed the side story so much.
This feeling wasn’t all the time, I overally enjoyed the main story I just felt it could’ve been more tightly packed. The part that I felt this ungluing happened the most was at the end. The ending I felt was very lacklustre and was kind of disappointed that it left some loose ties. I’m all for endings that leave you wanting more but this time it felt off, I felt as though it needed to end with more of a tightly wrap package. Currently it’s like someone has wrapped a birthday present with really nice wrapping paper, it looks really pretty but I feel like it really needs a bow on top. Also the present doesn’t fill the whole box.
Overally I felt as though the story could’ve offered a bit more but in terms of how this film is presented is beautiful enough to give it a watch. There’s not much I have to say about this film, I just feel very mellow about it. So yeah, bit of a short review so yeah, that’s it, you can go home now, that’s it. You can stay for some idle small talk but yeah that’s it for the review… err….. hmmm.. lovely weather we’re having I guess.