DVD Review - The Breadwinner (Oscar Nominee)
Jolie directed a film the same year that's also about a young girl of color who has to deal with not religious extremism but warring factions. Yet, Jolie's film called First They Killed My Father is a perfect companion piece to this, as both are told from a little girl's point-of-view, a point-of-view that is in many ways held hostage and has to survive with not much more than her own wits and sheer force of will. Both brilliantly show the strength of young girls. I hoped Jolie's film would have gotten the nomination, as it made my list of best films of 2017 and was submitted for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, but even though I overlooked it, I'm glad this film, very much related, got this nomination.
However, it is beautiful. The traditional, 2D animation is sumptuous as it is with all of Cartoon Saloon's projects. One other aspect that makes this film additionally gorgeous is the use of what looks like paper cut-out animation. That cut-out animation forms the basis of an imagined adventure that runs parallel to the main story. That main story involves what could be called cross-dressing or a drag king. It shows the overwhelming sexism and misogyny that a little girl named Parvana has to face. She has to pretend to be a boy just to go outside, or else she'll be physically attacked. No, this movie isn't graphic, but it makes clear that women are being physically attacked simply for being women. The beauty here overlays a horror of female abuse and Twomey makes sure the audience feels it.
At the beginning of the film, we see that Parvana's father named Nurullah who lost his leg during the Afghan Civil War has liberal beliefs and feels that women should be educated, so he teaches young girls like his daughter how to read and write, as well as the history of their country. Eventually, one of the Taliban, a guy named Idrees, learns this and has Nurullah arrested. Nurullah's eldest son died some time ago and his other son, Zaki, is just a toddler, so he leaves behind his wife named Fattema and two daughters, Parvana, his youngest, and Saraya, his eldest. Neither of whom are allowed outside to shop or work, and if they try, they get brutally beaten, so the women are essentially trapped. Parvana gets the idea to cut her hair and dress in her brother's clothes and pretend to be a boy to help her family, but she also wants to find her father and free him. This becomes her adventure.
Rated PG-13 for thematic material.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 33 mins.
Available on Netflix.
Available on DVD / VOD on March 6.