The Red Turtle – BFI LFF – Review

Michael Dudok De Wit was apparently surprised after being asked by animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli if he would make a feature for them. Free from dialogue, The Red Turtle is a story of a cast away stranded on a deserted Island with only some small inquisitive crabs to keep him company. Attempts to escape are thwarted by a red turtle that sends the stricken survivor back to the island at every attempt. When the red turtle comes to the island, the survivor takes his anger and vengeance upon it, resulting in an unimaginable turn of events that sees him remaining on the island.

The animation is beautiful in its simplicity, very similar to Georges Remi with added refinement. Credit has to be giving to De Wit and screenwriter Pascale Ferran who make the stricken islander’s frustrations and pain feel real. When the left-turn appears and the world becomes fantastical, the film loses focus on its central character and takes a root that loses a bit of the soul it generated, but somewhat irritatingly fails to answer its own questions. Which is a shame as it could have been a film heading for greatness but despite elements of being cute and soulful, just doesn’t know how to rise above the tide. Still the film is beautiful and at times mesmerising and it would be a surprise if De Wit is not asked to make another feature again.

★★★

Chris Aitken

 

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