“Encanto” tells the story of the Madrigal family, who are each granted powers when they come of age by their magical home. All except for Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz), who, for some reason, is left powerless. However, when she starts to notice that the house is starting to decay—and in turn, that her family’s magic is starting to disappear—she dedicates herself to finding out what is causing the disruption and saving her home and family.
When watching this movie, I was blown away by just how deeply the characters were crafted. They were all introduced in a certain light at the beginning of the film, but as the audience progresses through the plot, their perceptions shift along with Mirabel’s. New levels of these characters are exposed—insecurities, desires, backstories—and ultimately it is revealed how stifled they are in their individual roles. By putting such an emphasis on the characters’ development, the film allows audience members to relate more with the different individuals, and in turn with the film as a whole.
Of course, with this being a Disney movie, I have to talk about the songs. To put it simply, they’re beautiful. The emotion of the characters comes through strongly in each song and they discuss a range of experiences that audience members can relate to, adding another level of connection. They are deep and poignant, with powerful words paired with fun rhythms and beats that allow the listener to be lost in the stories that the different songs tell. I can’t say this is very surprising, as Disney has a history of producing great songs, and Lin-Manuel Miranda had a hand not only in the story, but the songs as well. The different songs in this film are definitely going to be Disney’s next big earworms.
My main critiques, in comparison to the film as a whole, are pretty minor when measured against the beauty of the movie. However, I still believe they are worth mentioning. First off, the plot of the film didn’t match much with what was advertised in their trailers. To be more specific, Disney advertised the movie as an adventure piece, one where we follow Maribel on an epic journey, confronting perils with the help of her family in order to ultimately save the day. However, that doesn’t follow the plot of the movie at all. There were actually moments I saw in the film that were tailored together in the trailer to give it that adventurous feeling, but in context had little to no relation with each other. Therefore, when I realized that the movie was focused more so on inner conflict than external conflict, there was a brief feeling of disappointment. It wasn’t because the plot of the movie was bad, but because I felt like I had gotten catfished into watching it. However, after getting over this betrayal, I was still enticed by the story and happily finished the film.
My other critique had to do with the ending of the film. While most of it was satisfying in terms of tying up the plot and providing an emotionally uplifting ending, there was a moment that felt somewhat lacking. Specifically, it was a conflict that persisted throughout about half of the movie that wasn’t tied up as neatly as it could—and honestly should—have been. As a result, this made the conflict seem as if it was quickly brushed over in a rush to provide a “happy ending.” Since it didn’t have much to do with the main conflict of the film, it is possible to simply ignore this issue. However, I personally couldn’t find myself moving past it. Of course, there is only so much one can do in the span of 109 minutes, but I wish that they had dedicated more time to that line of conflict before trying to wrap it up. There is also a major question that remains unanswered by the end of the film. While it probably could be seen as annoying that it wasn’t resolved, I actually didn’t mind. I was able to accept it, coming up with my own answer to this question. However, I don’t think this is the opinion shared with the general population.
At the end of the day, “Encanto” is a movie that should be slotted for everyone’s watchlist. The movie tells a beautiful story of love, acceptance and being able to be truly and wholly yourself. The characters feel three-dimensional, the music will find its way into your playlists (I can attest to this personally) and it is quite possible that you will shed tears at least once by the end of the movie.