Directed by Lee Unkrich. Starring Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach. 105 mins. In cinemas now
4.5 / 5
Pixar has long been the champion of misfit communities and uniquely forged families; characters who don’t belong anywhere, deciding to belong to each other. But with Coco, Pixar’s vibrant new exploration of Día de Muertos, we’re invited to explore the importance of truly understanding and valuing our family members, living and dead.
Anthony Gonzales voices 12-year-old Miguel, an idealistic young boy growing up in the Mexican town of Santa Cecilia. In defiance of his family’s ban on music, Miguel spends his time secretly teaching himself guitar and worshipping the songs of the late, great Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt), a homegrown folk singer who became a star.
When an encounter in Ernesto de la Cruz’s mausoleum propels Miguel into the Land of the Dead, he must track down his deceased family members and get their blessing in order to return to the living world.
Coco’s charm, wit and emotion come from its gloriously colourful immersion in the customs and folklore of Día de Muertos, which aren’t merely evoked by the film, but lie at its very core. Multicoloured papel picado tissue banners tell silhouetted stories all their own, altar-like ofrendas hold photographs of loved ones lost, and marigold petals create a glowing golden-orange bridge that joins the lands of the living and dead. The latter in particular is a spectacular, fantastical, fluorescent-bright city of skeletons, alebrijes, and mariachi music.
Frida Kahlo puts on hilariously surreal plays, and Ernesto de la Cruz’s poignant song ‘Remember Me’ makes all the skeletons swoon – though in true telenovela fashion, de la Cruz may not be all he appears.
Coco’s creativity and joyfulness is always rooted in tradition, and Miguel’s experience becomes a truly emotional coming-of-age story. He learns not to idolise celebrities, but the family members who came before him, and those in front of him now, loving him fiercely.
Coco: the Stones head out on tour again