Encanto Review: Lin-Manuel Miranda's music soars in this enchanting film about celebrating familial bonds

Updated on Nov 24, 2021 07:14 PM IST  |  108.3K
Encanto Review
Encanto releases in theatres on November 26.


Encanto Cast: Stephanie Beatriz, John Leguizamo

Encanto Directors:  Jared Bush, Byron Howard

Encanto Stars: 3.5/5

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Disney's Encanto sets itself apart from the studio's massively successful musical works such as Frozen among others in the most endearing way because it embraces the simplicity of storytelling in a way that's remained unexplored. The best part about Encanto is that it celebrates Colombian culture earnestly through its visuals and music but never limits itself to becoming a piece of material that is meant to simply serve as a representative piece. At its core, the film is about finding one's place in the family and more importantly coming into your own while doing so. Encanto promises to be a magical ride with a message so subtle that it will warm your heart in the most surprising way. 

Directed by Jared Bush and Byron Howard of Zootopia fame, Encanto revolves around the Madrigal family who after being forced to displace from their previous homes and losing a loved one during a tragedy, are blessed with a magical element they refer to as a "miracle", a candle that burns bright and gives each of the family members a special power. With the help of this "miracle", the family matriarch Abuela (María Cecilia Botero) has managed to raise beautiful family that has the magical element passed on to generations with each member of the family bringing a special gift with them except young Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). In a family of cousins and siblings who possess powers such as super-strength, shape-shifting, controlling the weather among others, Mirabel is the only muggle (non-magic), oddball Madrigal. When Mirabel realises that their beautiful Casita (home) may be in trouble as the miracle may be fading and her family may lose their powers, she takes it upon herself to set things right and save their magical gift.

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Mirabel may be the only one who has been deprived of a magical talent but it doesn't hold her back from appreciating and proudly parading around the gifts processed by her family. In a brilliantly composed track, Beatriz's Mirabel excitedly introduces her family and their magical powers which include, super-strong older sister Luisa (Jessica Darrow), cloud-wielding weather changer Aunt Pepa (Carolina Gaitán), shape-shifting cousin Camilo (Rhenzy Feliz), the princess of perfection, a flower-blooming Isa (Diane Guerrero) and well, "no one talks about" the mysterious Bruno (John Leguizamo). Apart from the Madrigal family, their magical home is an equally major character in the film. With shuttering tiles and doors that wave, this magical Casita is reflective of Mirabel's changing moods.

After making a vibrant start with the Madrigal family introductory song that gives a peek at Mirabel's perception of her family members, the film further on begins to peel the layers of this picture-perfect Casita and its residents as we learn more about the people beyond their gifts and more importantly, Mirabel's realisation of the dysfunctional nature of their family as they fail to separate the individual from their gifts. In turn, as the audience, it's also meant for us to understand how Mirabel's true gift is her ability to recognise that the cracks on her house may be external but what they require to re-build is internal healing. 

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One of the best ways the film conveys its simplistic messages is through Lin-Manuel Miranda's near-perfect score that consists of eight original songs and each is worthy in its own way. For me though if there's one song that blew me away, it's Luisa's “Surface Pressure” track. The confluence of Miranda's mood hopping songs combined with the excellent visuals that capture Colombian dance moves, food, the flower festival among other elements make it an enchanting experience. 

Encanto's voice cast includes John Leguizamo, Wilmer Valderrama, Maluma, Adassa, María Cecilia Botero, Angie Cepeda, Diane Guerrero and Jessica Darrow and while all bring their A-game to the film, there's no denying that it's Stephanie Beatize's show all the way as she gives her everything to make Mirabel a Disney character we would certainly wish to see more often. 

ALSO READ: Encanto: 5 important things fans should KNOW about Disney's upcoming animated movie

Encanto doesn't follow a traditional storyline that comes with a good vs evil plot and it's a breath of fresh air. Love thrives in a family that sees its members for exactly who they are and the absence of this can cause cracks in a foundation that may even be built on a magical Casita is a beautiful message to deliver and directors Jared Bush and Byron Howard successfully manage the same. In one of the best lines from the film, Beatriz's Stephanie says “Sometimes family weirdos get a bad rap" and it all boils down to this very feeling for Encanto which is all about accepting and celebrating one's imperfections. 

The film serves as a great reminder that most problems don't find solutions with powers or magic or might at the helm of one person. It's a collective effort that makes an impact. Stronger foundations are built through the efforts of shared humanity and no magic can fade that. 



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