Currently nominated in the Best Animated Feature Film at the 90th Academy Awards, The Breadwinner is an animated film directed by Nora Twomey, written by Anita Doron and Deborah Ellis, and it is based on the 2000 children’s novel by Ellis of the same name. The story is set in Afghanistan, during the Taliban regime, and we follow Parvana, a young girl who, after her father’s imprisonment, disguises herself as a boy in order to provide for her family.
The film, in terms of story and themes, is a breath of fresh air among animated movies. The filmmakers show the living conditions of families (especially women), who live in a constant state of terror, always threatened by the Talibans: women can’t go out alone without a man following them, and they can’t even buy food or medicines on their own. For a film aimed at families, there are also some mild moments of intensity and violence that push some of the strict boundaries that have been set up for these types of movies.
Of the themes that are presented, the one I liked the most was related to storytelling. The world the characters live in is grey and dirty, and to escape from the ugliness of reality, Parvana tells stories to her siblings and friends, transporting them in a colorful world of cut-out animation. These sequences are gorgeously animated, but the constant “she narrates what is happening and being said only to show the same things and repeat the same sentences” gets annoying rather quickly. The film also suffers from the ever-present “third act problem”: character motivations, consistency, and common sense are thrown out the window in order to wrap up the story (or to finish within the budget available).
The 2D hand drawn animation is gorgeous, and the voice acting is quite talented as well, with many actors with a Middle-Eastern background. The music is delightful, and the camera-work can be truly stunning in a couple of scenes.
Overall, The Breadwinner is a solid animated film that tells an interesting story that educates most viewers on the living conditions in a war-torn country, showing that there are both good and bad people living there. It’s ending is wholly unsatisfying and painfully mediocre, but the journey there is one of beauty and great humanity.
Visual Effects: 9
Violence & Gore: 5
Sex & Nudity: 1
Drugs & Profanity: 2
Intensity & Horror: 4