Life, Animated (2016)

Life, Animated Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

Life, Animated Movie Review

Life, Animated is a 2016 documentary film directed by Roger Ross Williams. It is one of the year’s best movies.
It is about an autistic man who learned to communicate with the outside world through his love of Disney animated films. I am a huge Disney animation fan, I have been their fan for seven years now and I am going to remain a fan for the rest of my life. Those movies mean so much to me that I naturally loved Life, Animated. It showcased hot strong and beautiful Disney films are and how they can even help people overcome their fears and problems.

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“When I now look in the mirror, I see a proud autistic man.”

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Life, Animated Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
That aspect to the film is so good. Not only do they emphasize the importance of animation and especially Disney in such a wonderful way, but they also showcase it beautifully throughout a series of well edited and used clips from these movies. I especially loved the emphasis on ‘The Little Mermaid’ as it is one of my favorites and a film that holds a strong emltional grip with the viewer.
But I respected the film for not fully be blinded by Disney and that was important. It certainly isn’t a one-sided endeavor. While it shows its strengths, it also shows us how those movies can be harmful for autistic people and that is also applicable to children everywhere. That issue is explored in Owen’s conversation with his brother where he states afterwards how Disney teaches you absolutely nothing about real relationships and sex. That was brutally honest, but important to state.
But let’s talk about the other aspect of the film. It may be called Life, Animated, but it is at its core a film about autism and to me an essential one. I knew little about this condition before, but that all changed after seeing this movie and now I am fully aware of this whole issue.

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Life, Animated Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
That is what documentaries are supposed to do – teach us about its subject and explore it thoroughly and this film did just that. I not only now know a lot about autism, but I see how underrated a condition it is. And Owen as the film’s center is just so wonderful and such a kind soul that I cared about him and rooted for him throuhout the whole flick.
I love the Suskind family and their story is so strong. He overcame autism in such an admirable and interesting way that it fascinated me. It states that animation is suitable for learning emotion and communication skills owing to its exaggerated facial expressions and voices. That certainly makes sense and the film explored it wonderfully.
The issue of growing up, the fears of it and the importance of taking your own responsibilites felt strong to me as I am right now at such a crossroads myself. That is why, although I am not an autistic person, I still found the movie immensely relatable and emotionally powerful.

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Life, Animated Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
However, Life, Animated isn’t perfect. I would have liked to have seen animated segments of his condition and those scenes could have visually helped us see how he feels. Those original animated segments about Owen and his stories are definitely fantastic, but I wanted more nonetheless. And I have to say that the third act of the film is, apart from its ending, much weaker than the rest of the picture and it seemes too real-time and less documentary-like. But still, this remains one of the best films of the years and certainly its finest documentary.
Owing to its emotional power, relatability in its theme of growing up and taking responsibilites for your life and such a wonderful person at the center of it, Life, Animated is simply a wonderful movie. The original animated segments are beautiful and the film showcases the strengths, but also the problems of Disney animated films in a great way. But it is above all a very thoughtful and factual examination of autism leading to 2016’s finest documentary and certainly one of the year’s best and most emotional films.

My Rating – 4.5

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Posted in 2010s, 2016, Documentary, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , , .

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