In Reviews

February 12th, 2016




Boy and the World is an artistic journey, into an imagination made entirely out of colored pencils. On the surface, the animation looks simple, a blank white page, with finely detailed, colorful drawings. The Brazillian film from writer-director Ale Abreu, follows the actions of a boy named Cuca, who is nothing more than a stick figure with a red striped colored shirt. Yet, this style of animation looks unique and alive, like a book of childhood drawings brought to life. Boy and the World ventures into an animated abyss and what I pleasantly found, is a joyous journey worthy of experiencing.

Cuca spends his time running around in the fields of his home. He frolics through the family farm, having fun chasing chickens and pulling on the tail of a horse. What looks like colorful marks of paint, develop into figures and locations, that appear out of nowhere. As our energetic lead weaves around, his thoughts begin to grow, as he climbs higher and higher, floating among the stars, as they change with each passing turn. Tall green and red trees turn into slides, soon turn to mountains, then into floating on fluffy clouds, and eventually back down on a balloon. His adventure is just beginning to take shape into this beautiful story.
When Cuca arrives home, in the distance, his father is leaving to catch a centipede-like train to the big city. The boy watches, as it disappears into the page, his father is off to find work, to support his wife and child. Below the surface of the images in Boy and the World, there is a message that Abreu sends about the struggles of the industrial, working labored life. Desperately seeking the love of his father, Cuca follows. Along the way, he will gain a partner in a friendly dog, but he will also see the struggle of hard work. There is an old man pulling a wagon behind him, leading to a field of various workers in cotton fields. Everything is in constant motion, reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s workers in Metropolis. It continues to a cotton mill of employees, and eventually leading to to a man working in a towering big city, overlooking the working class.

This is essentially a silent film. The various characters that we encounter who do speak (Cuca, his mother, father, and the dog barks), talk in a sort of gibberish language, which begins to make sense. Meanwhile, the wood flute and uplifting score of Ruben Feffer and Gustavo Kurlat, fits perfectly, whisking you away into the dreamlike state of the film. It is hard not to have the five note tune that Cuca plays on his flute stuck in your head, long after the film ends.

It is not all gloom and doom, as the vibrancy of colors makes even the darkest of situations bright. There is a beautiful message of family at the core here, and although the likeness of characters in constant motion caused a bit of confusion for me, it does not lose one’s attention. I am reminded of other adventurous animated films, such as An American Tail or last years Song of the Sea. Although don’t let the comparisons muddle the films originality. There is an attention to the colored pencil detail here, that rises above those others.

Here is a chance for audiences to step outside the boundaries of animation they typically see today. Boy and the World, is a brisk, energetic, one of a kind film, that is worthy of praise. It may even spark the imagination in all of us. I found it to be an impressive film to experience.

3 Stars

Written by: Leo Brady

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