Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Ireland/Canada/Luxembourg, 2017. Aircraft Pictures, Cartoon Saloon, Mélusine Productions, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Gaia Entertainment, Gkids, Guru Animation Studio, Jolie Pas Productions. Screen story by Deborah Ellis, Screenplay by Anita Doron, based on the book by Deborah Ellis. Produced by Anthony Leo, Tomm Moore, Andrew Rosen, Paul Young. Music by Jeff Danna, Mychael Danna. Production Design by Ciaran Duffy, Reza Riahi. Film Editing by Darragh Byrne. Academy Awards 2017. Golden Globe Awards 2017. Toronto International Film Festival 2017. Washington Film Critics Awards 2017.
Deborah Ellis’ award winning book has been turned into a touching, beautifully animated film. The Albert Nobbs-in-Kabul narrative has a young girl cut her hair and pass herself as a boy as a way to earn money for her family after her wounded war veteran father is arrested and sent to prison without any word as to when he will be released. This is Afghanistan under inhumane Taliban rule, which means that the authorities cannot be questioned and women cannot walk the street unaccompanied without reprisal, so for a family whose only male child is an infant, survival is greatly under threat. Young Parvana goes out into the world in disguise and meets another little girl who is getting by under the same masquerade, and spends her days working, her nights narrating a fairy tale to her little brother, and saves what little money she can in the hopes that she can bribe a guard at the jail to let her see her father. Skillfully written and directed and lushly filled out by a beautiful musical score by Jeff and Mychael Danna, the film is animated in the same style as director Nora Twomey’s earlier Secret of Kells, but without that film’s overwhelming sense of tweeness; here the combination of gritty reality and enchanted fantasy results in something dramatic and moving.