Refreshingly devoid of talking animals and anthropomorphic vehicles, Ann Marie Fleming's "Window Horses" is a lovely surprise of a stirringly original animated feature.
Meet Rosie Ming — just your average stick drawing of a young, introverted Vancouver Francophile poet of Chinese-Persian extraction (winningly voiced by Sandra Oh), whose self-published, "My Eye Full – Poems of a Person Who Has Never Been to France," earns her an invitation to an international poetry festival in … Shiraz, Iran.
Upon arriving, effectively enshrouded in a traditional black Muslim chador, thoughtfully packed for her by the overprotective grandmother (Nancy Kwan) who raised her as a child after the death of her mother (Kristen Thomson), Rosie is taken under the maternal wing of a college professor (Shohreh Aghdashloo) whereupon she embarks on a cross-cultural odyssey of self-discovery.
Filled with terrific characters including an angst-ridden German poet named Dietmar (Don McKellar) and generously peppered with gentle satire, the production beguiles with vibrantly rendered hand-drawn sequences contributed by more than a dozen animators.
Those diverse styles coexist beautifully within the context of the inspired storytelling by filmmaker Fleming, a Canadian resident who was born in Japan to Chinese and Australian parents.
While "Window Horses" obviously comes from a deeply personal place, the richly rewarding, poetic Persian epiphany that results in Rosie's emergence from under that chador as a fully realized individual touches on a universally shared pursuit of identity and belonging.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills