Arts movie review

Magic lies within us

‘Encanto’ casts a spell with a moving storyline and breathtaking visuals

9713 encanto
Disney's newest animated film: Encanto

Directed by Byron Howard, Jared Bush
Screenplay by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jared Bush, Charise Castro Smith
Starring Stephanie Beatriz, María Cecilia Botero, John Leguizamo, Mauro Castillo
Rated PG, Now Playing

In the enchanted village of Encanto lives the Madrigal family, who is blessed with special gifts. Abuela (María Cecilia Botero), the stern yet softhearted matriarch, strives to protect the family and the magic that in turn protects their village. Everyone in the Madrigal family receives a gift when they come of age, except for Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), the youngest granddaughter of Abuela. As she struggles to fit into a family where everyone else is “gifted,” she notices the magic safeguarding her family is starting to fade. The rest of the story follows Mirabel’s journey to preserve this magic and save Encanto with the help of her uncle Bruno (John Leguizamo).

Encanto tells the story of a young girl who is unexpectedly tasked with saving her village and her family. While emphasizing the importance of risk-taking and self-discovery, Encanto furthers this theme by illustrating that a person’s worth depends on more than their innate gifts. Mirabel constantly tries to prove herself to her family and win Abuela’s heart to compensate for her lack of a gift. She attempts and fails at even simple tasks that the rest of her family completes easily, such as decorating their house. However, when a disaster befalls the Madrigal family and Mirabel is suddenly faced with the task of restoring the magic, she understands that being true to herself matters more than being blessed with a gift.

Like most Disney films, Encanto is full of central messages. Luisa (Jessica Darrow) and Isabela (Diane Guerrero), the elder sisters of Mirabel, appear effortless and perfect in everything they do. However, both are constantly under pressure and feel tormented by their desire to earn their family’s approval. As the film progresses, Abuela realizes the consequences of her high expectations for her family. 

Beatriz brings Mirabel’s character to life with her realistic portrayal, enamoring the audience with the character of the goofy, playful Mirabel. Leguizamo essays with perfection the role of Abuela’s son, Bruno, whose gift of precognition results in several misunderstandings with the family disparaging him. All the actors made their characters pop off the screen.

While most of the songs complement the tone of the film, at times they also slow the pace of the movie. For example, though the song “Surface Pressure” brilliantly illustrates Luisa’s struggles, the song “Waiting on a Miracle” portraying Mirabel’s emotions seems redundant given that the audience already saw her very clearly expressing her thoughts before the song.

Much like its name, Encanto leaves no stone unturned in mesmerizing the audience. Howard and Bush maintain a vibrant tone throughout the movie by depicting picturesque landscapes, optimistic characters, and high-spirited music. They also successfully capture many aspects of Colombian culture, including dress, flora, and architecture. This film represents the peak of Disney’s visuals, exceeding those of Coco and the Frozen franchise. 

Overall, I would highly recommend Encanto, a film that captivates the audience not only with its beautiful visuals and moving songs but also with a compelling story that shows that magic is created when a family stays together, not when someone is imbued with special gifts.