'Encanto' review: A fantastical and magical tale celebrating individuality and kinship

Still from Encanto (Image via Youtube/ Walt Disney Animation Studios)
Still from Encanto (Image via Youtube/ Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Disney's 60th animated feature film Encanto is a fantastical musical comedy that has been directed by Jared Bush and Byron Howard, and co-directed by writer Charisse Castro Smith.

The film features an exceptional voice cast led by Stephanie Beatriz, with a soundtrack of earworms written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Maluma, Carolina Gaitán, Rhenzy Feliz, Adassa, and Ravi Cabot-Convers are other members of the voice cast.

Encanto revolves around The Madrigals, an extraordinary family who live in a charmed place called Encanto. Mirabel Madrigal is the black sheep of the family but crucial to the well-being of the family structure. The film was released theatrically in the United States on 24 November 2021 and released on Disney+ exactly a month later.

The official synopsis for Encanto reads:

"When Mirabel, the only ordinary member of the Madrigal family, discovers the magic surrounding their home is in danger, she may be her family's last hope."

'Encanto' plot overview: Mirabel's crusade to save the Madrigals' miracle

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Mirabel Madrigal is the only ordinary member of the extraordinary Madrigal family. At the end of Encanto's first soundtrack, The Family Madrigal, it is revealed that the whole family has superpowers, from superhuman strength to visions of the future. Mirabel is the only one without a unique gift.

15-year-old Mirabel is the black sheep in a family whose special gifts can be traced back to their abuela Alma who, along with her husband Pedro, escaped some unknown violent upheaval generations ago.

Though she lost her husband during the escape, she found a magical candle that helped her build a life for her triplets as well as other families in a charmed land called Encanto in Colombia. Since then every member of the Madrigal family unlocked their unique gift suited to their personality the day they turned 5.

Encanto opens with a ceremony for little Antonio's gift unveiling. During the ceremony, Mirabel notices fissures within the casita (house) and raises alarm only for her forewarning to fall on deaf ears. The Madrigals dismissed her as acting out due to her frustration about not having a special power.

However, things take a grim turn as certain members start losing their gifts and the magical candle powering their gifts begins to dim.

Her concern and love for her family drives Mirabel to step up and save the miracle that makes the Madrigal family so special. Encanto follows Mirabel on her adventure to discover her real métier and save the family from ruination.


'Encanto': A visual and musical delight for the entire family

Encanto truly dazzles visually and musically in this magical realism narrative. Notably, the magic in the movie isn't derived from mystical beings but from very relatable humans. This realistic foundation is what makes Encanto so enchanting. It keeps viewers engrossed by seamlessly blending sentimentalism and humor.

Along with the vibrant animation and characters, Miranda's songs helped Encanto reach the pedestal of one of the best Disney animations. Stephanie Beatriz was mind-blowing in her voicing of Mirabel and serenaded viewers with her musical chops.

Mirabel's story in Encanto is something most people around the world can relate to. The nagging feeling of not being good enough or living up to the expectations can be overwhelming and destructive, not just for ourselves but for others around us as well.

Disney's 60th feature film encapsulates various themes like the crushing weight of family expectations, sibling rivalry, love, acceptance, and generational trauma beautifully, without sinking into poignancy.

Lastly, Encanto stands out in its inclusion of wonderfully diverse characters in a tribute to Colombian culture. It presents a family of individuals with varying skin tones and hair textures and also incorporates Colombian fashion and musical palette.

From colorful dresses and flowing, embroidered skirts to slinky, salsa-influenced music, Encanto is an enchanting, beautifully animated fun for the whole family.

Disney's Encanto is now streaming on Disney+.

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Edited by Saman