60 movies in and Disney finally made one where my childhood self might have seen herself on screen: brown, bespectacled, curly-haired, clearly not a Princess, no magical powers, not at all submissive or mild, but definitely curious and loyal, from a large loving multi-generational family. It's easy to say the phrase "representation matters" and it's another to truly feel it in your bones and to believe that you could be a Disney hero. What I would've given to have seen ENCANTO as a kid.
The film is an absolute joy: a riot of colour and dance, best seen on a big screen with a great sound-system. Lin Manuel Miranda provides songs that are instantly recognisable as his - mashing up musical genres but reaching back to latin roots. And Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) is just a wonderful heroine. She clearly loves her eccentric, magically gifted family, but harbours a secret sadness that she is the only one without magical powers. That said, she's smart, and realises that something bad is happening to her enchanted family house, and that her family's magic might be under threat. And in exploring why, she realises that all of her family have their own stories too: the super strong Luisa is buckling under emotional stress; perfect princess-like Isabella actually just wants to "let it go". The final act twists are deeply satisfying and I found myself in tears at the ending, with all of its affirmation and emotional release. Kudos to all involved.
ENCANTO is rated PG and has a running time of 102 minutes. The movie is on global release.