Boy & the World Review
Boy & the World is a 2014 Brazilian animated silent film directed by Ale Abrau. It is an abstract and wordless movie that gathered critical praise and awards, but I found it flawed.
It follows a boy whom his father leaves in search of work and the boy embarks on a journey to find him towards an unknown city. This is an abstract, artistic film in the vein of Disney’s ‘Fantasia‘, but whereas that film had no story for the major part, Boy & the World has one which is its strength and weakness in the process. Let me elaborate. While it is definitely better in my opinion for a movie to have a concrete story and this movie does have one, I still found it flawed as it is too simplistic and too ambiguous and never properly explained.
It is thematically rich and some moments are marvelous to behold. The most memorable scene for me was the one in which the two fall asleep and the camera moves away from them and we get a look at the big city. That is a great way to show how in the city that is chaotic and vast, the two found each other and that is all that matters. And the film has those moments to spare, but they are just moments and the overall storyline is quite lacking unfortunately.
I wished to have seen more of it and I wished for better and more clear storytelling as it is too difficult to understand here not only because it’s silent and has no dialogue, but mostly because the approach is too ambiguous. Its political overtones in the second half aren’t as well handled and I enjoyed the first half much more and found the tonal shift at the middle quite jarring to be honest. It starts and ends well with great touching moments, but I wish that the whole movie was like that – intimate and warm.
Boy & the World is a technical marvel. It has such an artistic and unique animation that has wonderful Latin-like qualities while also being effervescent and beautiful to look at. The character design is not my cup of tea as it is overly simplistic, but the simplistic animation otherwise works here and I found the animation of the jobs, towns and abstract scenes the highlights. It is so colorful, but wonderfully so rather than garish which is a great achievement.
The score is one of the best aspects here without any doubt. It is amazing and so catchy and just moving. It is wonderfully Brazilian in essence, but also the kind of music that anyone can enjoy and this is the soundtrack that lifts the whole movie to greater heights as it is that good. The pacing is also solid and although the movie can be tough to sit though due to its nature, it is still not as boring as it could have been and the running time is manageable. The directing is good and the imagery is always fascinating to watch. The movie isn’t original at all in its storytelling, but is rather authentic in its technicalities and especially animation which is one of a kind and so refreshing. It is visually a feast for the eyes and it is worth watching for that alone. But it isn’t engaging and the plot should have been much better realized and that would have made the movie much better. Also, the characters are forgettable and don’t get any development whatsoever. It is the kind of film that is an experiment, but the one that is more interesting and unique rather than truly fascinating or really great.