For Reel

The Red Turtle (2016)
April 24, 2017, 7:56 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Michaël Dudok de Wit
5 Stars
The Red TurtleIn The Red Turtle, the creatures that inhabit the island that our nameless castaway lands upon are the lords of their domain. Some, like the white, skittering crabs, approach the survivor with some curiosity, while others navigate indifferently with their array of survival tools. If the protagonist is not often treated with a close-up, it is key that director Michaël Dudok de Wit indulges cutaways to images of spiders, bats, and the aforementioned crabs resourcefully finding their food. The language is clear: the castaway is a visitor, and the seemingly insurmountable task of survival is one that these creatures have long since adapted to mastering. But Dudok de Wit’s film is not just a bleak survivalist story, rather it is an elegant love story about growing old and the things that keep families together and tear them apart. As the film delves deeper into its magical realist interests, perhaps it would be a contradiction to suggest that the emotions Dudok de Wit engages with become all the more prescient and relatable. But like all of the films that Studio Ghibli leaves its mark upon, The Red Turtle understands that deeper truths can often be approached through mystical means. If life itself is a survival story about scraping by and rummaging for food, Dudok de Wit uses the magical as a means of articulating the longings of a soul. The sudden appearance of a magnificent turtle who campaigns the castaway to stay where he is demonstrates that a physical rescue isn’t the only path to the protagonist finding his peace.

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