Review by Sean Boelman
Thanks to its exceptionally creative style, the new French family flick Marona’s Fantastic Tale cements itself as an early contender for awards consideration (although studio fare will likely triumph). With some breathtaking animation and a cute story, this will be a satisfying watch for the young and young-at-heart alike.
The film follows a young dog who, following an accident, reflects on her life and the various owners she has had and the way in which she has experienced the world. In terms of animated dog movies, it’s pretty par for the course in a narrative sense, with comedic hijinks and heartstring-pulling moments in droves.
One of the more noticeable issues with the movie is that it feels extremely rushed. Although it is understandable why the film must be action-oriented to appeal to younger audiences, the protagonist moves through too many owners too quickly. It would have been nice had the movie slowed down to take some time in the fantasy of the moment.
The film is also held back by the fourth-wall-breaking narration that composes a majority of the storytelling. Unfortunately, the voice acting from Lizzie Brocheré is pretty monotonous and flat. After a while, it becomes a bit exhausting to hear her voice almost constantly, and viewers will be left craving more interaction.
Another thing about the movie that is somewhat frustrating is that the protagonist doesn’t have a particularly deep arc. The audience will obviously sympathize with her as a cute anthropomorphic canine, but for the most part, the film fails to convince the audience of what makes her tale so fantastic in the first place.
That said, there are some surprisingly deep moments in the movie that deal with unexpected issues such as poverty and racism. Even though the film’s central allegory may not be as cohesive as one would like, there’s still a lot here that makes it a mostly thought-provoking watch.
However, inarguably the biggest triumph of the movie is its animation that is absolutely gorgeous and unlike anything else. The emotion that is largely lacking in the story and acting is made up for in droves by the visual style. The use of color here alone is beyond beautiful and will have an intense effect on the viewer.
Marona’s Fantastic Tale is a great film thanks to its wildly idiosyncratic visuals. Even though it doesn’t break much new narrative ground, the visual style (that hopefully won’t be mimicked) is worth watching for alone.
Marona’s Fantastic Tale is now streaming online in partnership with indie theaters. A list of participating locations can be found here.