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Review – The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle Poster

The Red Turtle Poster

You may not have heard of this one, but it’s just been nominated for an Oscar.

From acclaimed Japanese animation house, Studio Ghibli, The Red Turtle is a near silent film about a man marooned on a desert island, his attempts to leave, and his unexpected fate with a giant red sea turtle.

I’m a big fan of Miyazaki’s work, and even though he was not involved in this film, Studio Ghibli – which he helped to found – is known for producing some outstanding work. I’m not sure I would put this one under that category. If Castaway was animated, more melancholic, and vastly stranger, it would be The Red Turtle. Just swap Wilson with a giant red sea creature with an usual secret. And make it less interesting and more ambiguous.

Not serene and thoughtful enough to just be a emotional tale, and not weird enough to be delightfully provocative, it falls somewhere in between and, for me, flat. Some of the animation is quite lovely, especially any scenes involving water, but other times the simplicity of the art style seems almost cheap rather than anything else. The dialogue void plot is simplistic, yet head scratching, and may very well leave you scratching your head wondering what exactly the point of it all was. Is it a metaphor for something? Not clear. Am I over thinking it, trying to find deeper meaning in a sweet little fable? Perhaps, but if so then I don’t find enough substance here without more meaning, and too little makes sense to interpret it in a more straightforward manner.

I enjoyed the film about half the time, but the other half I was rather bored to be completely honest with you, and given the already short run time of 80 minutes, that’s really a problem. I was left feeling rather empty and disappointed by The Red Turtle. It seemed to have such promise to be something beautiful, but a song with no variation to the tune, it just felt dim, and the ending, which is supposed to be touching, just seems inevitable and anti-climactic instead.

It has artistic merit, sure, and a dreamy fairy tale sheen about it. The hand drawn animation is refreshing, and I really expected to end up liking the film. Sorry to say though, in the end not much worked for me with The Red Turtle. If you feel different, I’d love to know why.

Mrs. Hamster says:

“I don’t even know what to say.”

Brother Hamster did not screen this film

My rating: Three out of five hats



The Red Turtle swims into select theaters, including the DC area, January 27

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