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Coco is profound and heartwarming, says Dipanjan Sinha

A young boy wanders into the world of the dead, to find lively towns and skeletons full of pep. There’s also danger here, a final death that comes when you are forgotten in the world of the living.

movie reviews Updated: Nov 23, 2017 18:28 IST
Dipanjan Sinha
Dipanjan Sinha
Hindustan Times
Mexico,Music,Lee Unkrich
Miguel Rivera loves music, but his family makes shoes, and they don’t like the thought of him doing anything else. His great-grandmother Coco is the only one who won’t mock his dreams.
  • Direction: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
  • Actors: Anthony Gonzalez, Renee Victor
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Pixar is back with another story that makes you grin happily right from the first scene. This one is about life, death, betrayal, and a little boy who crosses over to the ‘other side’ and scurries about in the world of the dead.

There are rail routes in this afterlife, identity checks and Gothic architecture; there’s even some fine urban planning. The dead move around as skeletons, their dangly parts dropping off from time to time. The great achievement of Coco is that it makes these skeletons endearing, makes you empathise with their disembodied souls.

The story is rooted in Mexican culture, and is a plunge into new territory for directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. A 12-year-old boy named Miguel Rivera (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), from the small village of Santa Cecilia, wants to sing and play guitar, but his family forbids music. They’ve been shoemakers for as long as they can remember.

In the afterworld, Miguel meets members of his own family tree — and finally gets a chance to perform.

In fact, they began making shoes after Miguel’s great-great-grandfather deserted his wife and child to pursue a career in music. The family revels in their sameness. Through most of their scenes, they are either hammering nails into leather or eating together.

Mama Coco (Renee Victor), Miguel’s great-grandmother, is the one who listens to the tales of Miguel’s adventures. She is silent now, and very old.

Suffocated in this place where he must sneak around to play, Miguel runs away from home and decides to go in search of his idol, the musician Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). He finds himself in the afterworld, where he eventually meets de la Cruz, members of his own family tree, and finally finds an opportunity to perform.

Coco’s theme about the final death, when one fades from the memory of people, is a poignant one and yet the plot moves along at a steady clip. Nowhere, despite the depth of its ideas, does the film become ponderous. In fact, as unlikely as this may seem, you’ll find yourself thinking of this movie long after it’s ended.

First Published: Nov 23, 2017 18:28 IST