Red, review: the color of adolescence

Red, review: the color of adolescence

Red, review

We are now approaching the gates of spring, a season of colors and hormonal peaks, the perfect time for the release of Red, the latest animated film from Pixar Animation Studios. After her delicious Bao grossed the Oscar for Best Animated Short at the 2019 Academy Awards, Domee Shi makes her debut at the reins of a feature film as the first woman to direct a Pixar film (apart from Brenda Chapman who co -directed Rebel together with Mark Andrews), and together with screenwriter Julia Cho he was able to give life to a brilliant coming-of-age comedy that made us get up from the chair with a satisfied smile.

We are only sorry that the experience of this film cannot be fully enjoyed by the public in cinemas, since it has been decided, officially to counter the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, that Red will arrive directly on Disney Plus without also landing on the big screen, as already happened for Soul and Luca.

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Year of the Panda

Set in a Toronto in the early 2000s, Red stars the thirteen-year-old Meilin Lee, a Sino-Canadian girl a bit clumsy but brilliant and disciplined, even if decidedly not very popular at school. Fortunately, the young woman is not the typical outcast, but she can count on a group of close friends with whom she shares in particular a shameless passion for 4 * Town, a boy band on the crest of the wave whose friends obviously know all the songs a memory.

The obsession with fascinating performers is clearly only the first symptom of the characteristic hormonal storm that is making its way into his life and that is beginning to make itself felt in the family. The teenager has in fact a contrasting relationship especially with her mother Ming, an affectionate woman but also very protective and intrusive in the life of what she still sees as her pure and innocent child, on which she places expectations and responsibilities. On the one hand, Meilin is emotionally tied in two ways to her parents and takes the leaps and bounds to make them proud of her, on the other hand, her duties at the family temple and the interference of her mother prevent her from living life as she would like, putting a strain on her. prove his strenuous deference.

Everything is destined to change when one morning Meilin wakes up in the bulky shoes of a giant red panda, throwing her into absolute emotional confusion. She soon learns from her parents that this metamorphosis is a kind of curse handed down by the women of her family and that manifests itself every time she is crossed by strong emotions, and can only be reversed by relaxing the mind.

Seeing Red

Domee Shi stages a coming-of-age film suitable for all ages, as per the Disney Pixar tradition, but more profoundly aimed at teenagers. In fact, it is clear that Meilin's animalistic mutation is nothing more than an allegory of the arrival of puberty, which in the film is expressed in a visually extreme way as a red panda, a non-random color that embodies both menstruation and the intensity of feelings. .

One aspect we found particularly appreciable is that Meilin's mother is not abandoned in the classic role of the adult figure impervious to the viewer's gaze, in a way that pleasantly reminded us of Traveling with Pippo, albeit with a different approach. Ming is initially portrayed as the authoritarian parent to deal with, but then she in turn will become an unexpected reference for Red's narrative. In the second half of the film, the figure of the red panda is also charged with a broader meaning that is the driving force behind the main theme: the acceptance of one's own emotions and identity which must be supported without allowing oneself to be influenced by external, family or social pressures. they are.

This type of breaking down of barriers in the representation of unease is what is needed to counter the generational differences of our time. Moreover, it was already evident from Bao that parenting themes such as the empty nest syndrome and emancipation are very dear to the director Domee Shi, who openly characterized the protagonist thinking about herself as a teenager.

We also appreciated how Red remains focused on his own personal theme, without falling into the cliché of certain teen romantic comedies in which the protagonist's affirmation is measured by the fact that she is noticed by the guy she has a crush on .

Red's authorship is also perceptible in the animation style. Domee Shi has revealed in the past that she feels very influenced by her experience with anime, as well as by Edgar Wright's style. Visually, the film is in fact very similar to Japanese animated productions in the accentuated facial expressions and frenetic action, which make the scenes particularly agitated and hilarious. A stylistic choice that goes perfectly with the whirlwind of strong emotions and mood swings that stir in the protagonist.

Also noteworthy is the great attention paid to the representation of the boy band 4 * Town, for which the singers Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O'Connell have exclusively created three songs, which are included in the effective column sound signed by Ludwig Göransson (Creed, Tenet, The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett).

Available on Disney Plus from March 11th, Red proved to be a product with a fresh modernity and in some ways courageous in addressing some implicit themes, with an effective, hilarious and nuanced writing. At the heart of the film pulsate in unison that lightness and introspective ability for which Pixar is now a master.

The director Domee Shi and all the staff have done a good job of representing with an authorial imprint a theme that should be of common interest (not only of teenagers) through the story of the confused Meilin, astride the scorching border between two phases of life and conflict between eastern and western values, bond with the family and self-affirmation. We sincerely hope that Pixar will continue to enrich its production by giving a voice to authors with such heterogeneous perspectives and sensibilities.

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