Films: Encanto

I seriously cannot stop thinking about this film. Between writing this and it being posted, I may actually end up watching it again. I do need to re-watch it – it’s the type of film that deserves to be seen repeatedly. As well as the film apparently setting camp in my head 24/7, I also can’t help but keep listening to the soundtrack. It’s just too damn good!

If you haven’t watched this already, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s one of those films that is truly completely magical, and not because of the gifts they have. Encanto is about the Madrigals, who have gifts bestowed on them – except for Mirabel, but when she notices the house cracking, Mirabel sets out to find out what is happening to their miracle. And if you haven’t seen it yet…maybe turn back now, because there will be spoilers going forward.

Like I said, I can’t stop thinking about it and listening to the soundtrack, every time I put it on I feel like something else occurs to me about the characters and plot and foreshadowing. We Don’t Talk About Bruno has Dolores mention she can hear him. In the same song, Bruno never tells Isabela her life will be perfect or easy – just that she would have the life of her dreams and her power would grow. I’ve seen it mentioned “He told Isabela she’d have a perfect life, of course she’s happy with it!” But that’s not what he says, and it’s only through Mirabel’s help Isabela’s power does grow, and she feels less responsibility to be perfection personified.

The beauty in this film is in its layers, and there is truly something in here everyone can take away. I love the focus on Colombia, and how this film feels so unique to Colombia. It’s important to acknowledge the fact the film deals with trauma, through Alma Madrigal’s storyline, her focus on the ‘miracle’ and ‘gifts’, the way she tries to cling on so tightly to her family and her fear of what might happen to them without the gifts they possess. Her focus on that means she does almost end up losing them, but she realises, and not only is she reunited with her son, she has a stronger relationship with her granddaughter.

Of course, any of my views here are just my own personal responses to the film – like I said above, I think there are layers to this, and I think every person will get something different from this film, which is absolutely bloody beautiful. I love seeing different responses and theories to films like this, so I just thought I’d jot down some of my own.

I feel like in different ways, for different reasons, I really connected with all three of the sisters. The dynamics between the three of them are really clear, and I think however many siblings you have, and whether you are the oldest, the youngest, or a middle child, there are things about all three girls to identify with. I’m the youngest of three, with two older brothers. I completely got Mirabel’s feeling of being overlooked, of not living up to expectations, of feeling, honestly, like you’ll never compare to the older siblings.

And Luisa…oh, Luisa. So much pressure on her, seen as someone who is all strength by the family, there to help with every little thing and make their lives easier. Whether it’s physical strength or emotional strength, Surface Pressure conveys what it feels like when the family are relying on you, when it feels like you have to be the strong one, not cry, keep it together for the sake of everyone else. Learning to set boundaries is so hard, especially with the people you love and want to care for. Surface Pressure also reminded me of something a dear friend said to me once. Sometimes it feels like you’re a glass, slowly filling up with water. A tap dripping into it, which is fine when it’s just one tap (you) but when everyone else expects you to catch their water, too, you’re going to overflow.

Then we have Isabela. The perfect, wonderful older sister. The one who can do no wrong, and probably wouldn’t be told off if she did so something bad. I completely understood how Mirabel felt towards Isabela, probably compared to her her whole life, and seeing how much of a charmed life Isabela has. But although Isabela seems to have it all, it’s clear there is pressure on her, too. Not so much to look after the family, but to represent the family, to hold it together and be perfect. There’s talk of Isabela getting married, but we never know what she actually thinks about that until the end. She has her role in the family, and she plays it, perhaps a bit too well, only able to embrace the full extent of her powers when she’s able to accept she isn’t perfect and doesn’t have to be.

Encanto is such a wonderfully beautiful film, and there’s so much to it. I definitely haven’t conveyed everything I felt about it here, but I think it’s a film that is going to stick with the public for a long, long time. Between the scenery, the characters, and the music, the film is excellent in itself, but there are so many layers to it and so many different things resonating with people, I don’t think we’re going to stop talking about Bruno for a long, long time.

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