The Red Turtle (La Tortue Rogue) ⭐⭐⭐½

Animated features for adults are rare and Michael Dudok de Wit’s Oscar nominated film is certainly one for thinkers and not toddlers. It is very imaginative and open to interpretations and philosophical scrutiny. In fact, I think it demands it. The practically wordless film is handsomely rendered and lushly scored and the storytelling here is beautiful and elegant. But I have a problem with what this story means. Narratively, it recalls films such as Cast Away or All Is Lost, as a man lost at sea ends up on a desert island alone except for a few sea creatures and some comedic crabs, whose presence I find particularly charming. He tries to escape but his attempts are thwarted and by the time the titular creature appears, the film takes a more mystical turn. While the film is emotional without being oversentimental, what some people find poetic and magical, unfortunately got tangled up in my juvenile yet cynical mind and I do not see the meditative analogy to humanity that some reviewers saw in this film. I’ll gladly admit that I am probably overthinking it or simply getting it wrong, but the more I ponder, the more distracted and disengaged I get by the bleak undertone beneath the fantastical story which does not sit well with me (and any further elaboration would venture into spoiler territory). I do appreciate and admire the wonderful artistry involved here, and diverse and thoughtful cinema like this should always be encouraged, so I do urge you to check this out. However, I must also admit that I find the surreal conceit and narrative development in the end rather troubling and not entirely agreeable.

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