Rajeev Masand

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Boy and the World

Boy and the World, a charming animation film from Brazil that was nominated for an Academy Award two years ago, takes us inside the head of a small child; it gives us a view of the world through his innocent eyes.

This simple, mostly hand-drawn feature directed by Alè Abreu looks nothing like the slick, sophisticated films from Disney and Pixar, but you’ll be happy to know it’s as emotionally engaging as the best of those films.

It tells the story of a pint-sized boy, living happily on a farm, which is as much of the world he knows. When his father leaves for the big city, the boy decides to follow him, thus beginning an adventure in which he finds his view of the world expanding rapidly.

The film’s anti-capitalism message, its critique of environmental damage, and its theme – the loss of innocence – aren’t new to the animation genre, yet Abreu reaches for a purity and simplicity that makes the tale genuinely affecting. The animation is lovely: clean, basic, and filled with aching, gorgeous color. It’s set to a pulsating soundtrack that more than makes up for the practically wordless script.

But at the heart of the film, is the boy himself. Our protagonist, the little guy in the striped shirt, whose face resembles a button with two long, slit-like holes for eyes. It’s through those eyes – full of awe, surprise, and horror – that we witness the harshness of the modern world.

It’s likely that the film’s socioeconomic subtext will go above the heads of very young viewers, but there’s a lot to enjoy in this kaleidoscopic odyssey that somehow manages to pierce its way into your heart and make you care.

The Boy and the World is wonderfully strange, and yet has so much to say of such great value. Make time for this little gem. I think you’ll enjoy it.


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