Coco (2017) Review

5/5* Shivs Show | Siobhan Divers

Dir: Lee Unkrich

105 mins

Starring: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael García Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Edward James Olmos

A magical tale exploring Mexican tradition, heritage and culture through exquisite imagery, Coco is a beautiful film which can be enjoyed by both adults and children.

Pixar films are known for their incredible attention to detail as well as their wholesome heart-warming stories and Coco is no different.

The main storyline follows 12-year-old Miguel, who dreams of being a musician. The only problem with this, is that music is forbidden in his family – his great-great-grandmother Imelda’s husband left her and their 3-year-old daughter to pursue his music career. When he never returned, Imelda started a shoemaking business, which the family hoped that Miguel would continue.

Miguel is then forced to choose between his love for his family and his passion for music.

Pressured into choosing family, Miguel still secretly enjoys music and has a shrine to his hero, deceased celebrity singer Ernesto De La Cruz who he suspects might be Imelda’s husband and thus a member of his family. Miguel finds Ernesto’s guitar, intending to play it in a talent show, however upon strumming the guitar he becomes invisible to the living and visible to the dead.

The whole story takes place on Día de Muertos (The Day of the Dead), where as part of Mexican tradition, families pray for their deceased ancestors, supporting their spirtitual journey. It is explained that when a deceased family member’s photo is displayed in the home, they can return to the Land of the Living for the day.

Miguel, however, manages to cross over to the Land of the Dead, where the border control between the living world and the dead is comparable to the Customs Department and the current issue of the deportation of immigrants – a clever nod to the political situation in America over the last few years.

Despite being a story about the dead where the majority of the characters are skeletons, Coco is colourful, entertaining and informative – the quest narrative within has strong messages about family tradition, living life to the fullest and understanding and recognising grief.

It’s not the only Pixar film to examine grief though, Up, Bambi and the Lion King also teach young people about mortality and pain.

Coco tells the story in a unique way however, using a concept which is not often explored on screen – another example of Disney widening it’s variety of representations.

2016 Disney film Moana can also be credited for its representation  – Moana explores Polynesian culture and folklore.

Like Moana, Coco also has impressive CGI, a compelling storyline and endearing characters.The Land of the Dead is a vibrant and virtually ambitious world and the film introduces a variety of characters whom the viewer automatically sympathises with.

For the most part, despite being a film about death, Coco is fast paced, sophisticated and magical.


Bet you weren’t expecting that sentence and I assure you, I wasn’t expecting any of the twists in Coco.

With the exception of the ending, Coco isn’t a tear-jerker the entire way through but it goes from 0-100. Real. Quick.

The ending can only be described as being on the same level of feels as the opening montage of Up.

Simultaneously themed around celebrating traditions and death while highlighting the importance of life, Coco explores memory and mortality as well as betrayal, loss and following dreams – y’know kids stuff…

If you liked this, please read, like and comment on my other reviews here.

I also have a Letterboxd account where I post some short reviews of the most recent films I’ve seen.

And don’t forget to follow my Twitter and Instagram

Siobhan x

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