Birdboy: The Forgotten Children

****

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Psiconautas
"With imagery that shifts seamlessly from the kawaii to the diabolical, not least in a darkly psychedelic sequence near the end, this is a film that really makes its mark." | Photo: Courtesy of San Sebastian Film Festival

An island full of strange and wonderful places. Anthropomorphic little animals going on a quest. A lonely boy who learns to fly. Birdboy: The Forgotten Children has all of this and more, but it's about as far from Disney as you're likely to get. The island saw better days before the apocalypse. The animals seek only to escape. And ever since his father's death at the hands of fascist police officers, the boy has been reliant on hard drugs to suppress his very literal demons.

Adapted from their 2011 short, Pedro Rivero and Alberto Vázquez 's beautifully animated film opens with a desperate family scavenging on a rubbish heap and just gets bleaker. Little Dinki (voiced by Andrea Alzuri) dreams of a better life and is running out of patience with her father's attempts to crush her ambitions. Together with two of her friends, she establishes a plan to leave the island. There are just two problems. First, they must get past the forgotten children, a vicious gang of outlaw rats. Second, Dinki is in love with Birdboy.

Copy picture

Nobody knows Birdboy's secret. He's not (only) the monster people think. In fact, he is devoted to carrying out his father's work and bringing life back to the island. But Birdboy is an outlaw, continually threatened by the murderous police. He can't give Dinki the life she dreams of - if, indeed, he returns her affections at all. He's not really the kind of boy she can take home to meet her parents.

With imagery that shifts seamlessly from the kawaii to the diabolical, not least in a darkly psychedelic sequence near the end, this is a film that really makes its mark. Dry wit intersects with whimsy and fantastically creative storytelling, making it easily the most distinctive animated feature of the past year. It may have strictly niche appeal but those for whom it works at all are likely to adore it.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2018
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Three children decide to leave their homes looking a better life.

Director: Alberto Vázquez, Pedro Rivero

Writer: Joe Deasy, Pedro Rivero, Pedro Rivero, Stephanie Sheh, Alberto Vázquez, Alberto Vázquez

Starring: Andrea Alzuri, Eva Ojanguren, Josu Cubero, Félix Arcarazo, Jorge Carrero, Nuria Marín, Josu Varela, Jon Goiri, Maribel Legarreta, Iker Diez, Juan Carlos Loriz, Kepa Cueto, Josu Díaz, Mónica Erdocia, Ander Vildósola Gala

Year: 2015

Runtime: 76 minutes

Country: Spain

Festivals:

SSFF 2015
London 2016

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