Encanto: Film Review

Disney

Lin-Manuel Miranda has had one hell of a busy year – not only did he appear in and produce In the Heights, direct Tick, Tick… Boom! and produce and lend his voice to Vivo, but he has also created the original songs for Disney’s latest animated musical Encanto.

This film tells the story of the Madrigal family, who live in a magical house powered by a magic candle. Each family member is blessed with a unique gift or power – from super-strength to beauty – by the candle when they turn a certain age – except for Mirabel (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), who didn’t get one and feels like an outsider in her own family. When it seems like the magic of the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might be her family’s last hope.

First of all, Encanto is visually stunning. I feel like I use that phrase a lot but I really mean it for this film. Every frame is so vibrant and colourful and full of life. I just adored how gorgeous it looked. The film is set in an envy-inducing home within a village surrounded by mountains in Colombia and it makes you just want to be somewhere sunny and green, especially right now.

Disney continues to make strides in terms of representation with Encanto, which features all-Latinx characters and voices. While Miranda came under fire for colourism with In the Heights – darker-skinned Latinx people didn’t feel represented – that’s not the case here as there are many different skin tones on display. There is also an interracial couple and that’s no big deal – it’s not even addressed – and Mirabel wears glasses and isn’t characterised as a dork or nerd which makes me, a glasses wearer, very happy.

The music gets off to a great start with the catchy The Family Madrigal – featuring Miranda’s trademark vocal gymnastics – but I have to admit that some of the numbers aren’t super memorable. The music, however, is full of energy and made me tap my feet constantly and I felt in a dancing mood as the credits rolled.

Encanto tells a sweet, charming story about family and accepting who you are. I loved the message and the film’s heart but I was expecting more from the story. The scale of it is much smaller than the usual Disney fare – it is just based within the house and its surrounding village and I just expected more to happen. I also thought it laid the sentimentality on a bit thick towards the end.

Beatriz is well cast as the outsider Mirabel, who is happy and positive on the surface but feels inferior and unworthy compared to her seemingly flawless siblings. She has solid support from John Leguizamo as Uncle Bruno, the dark sheep of the family, as well as Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama and Maluma.

Encanto tells a lovely heartfelt story that looks and sounds gorgeous but it left me wanting more.

In cinemas from Wednesday 24th November

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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