Review: ‘Boy & the World’ is a charming bit of Brazilian animation


One of the first animated features made in Brazil, “Boy & the World” is a brightly colored, often charming film that juxtaposes simple, hand-drawn animation with kaleidoscopic computer-generated patterns.

When his father leaves to find work in the city, a boy named Cuca follows him, hoping to reunite his family. Far from his rural home, the boy witnesses scenes of industrial agriculture, colorful festivals, ecological destruction and oppressive urban life.

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The characters are little more than stick figures with balls for heads and a few pencil lines for eyes: Their simplicity recalls the minimal figures in the award-winning films of John and Faith Hubley. Writer-director Ale Abreu sets the simple figures in a brilliantly colored world and moves them to a soundtrack that blends traditional instruments with Brazilian hip-hop.

Although he has directed only one other feature and a few shorts, Abreu set a formidable challenge for himself when he decided to present a feature-length story entirely in mime. Only at the end does his vision falter, when he introduces photographs and live-action clips that clash with the fragile linework that precedes them.

“Boy and World” has won numerous awards on the festival circuit, and Abreu is clearly a talent to watch. Like Tomm Moore’s “The Song of the Sea” and Isao Takahata’s “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” last year, “Boy and the World” reminds viewers that an animated feature can be more intimate and personal than the big-budget CG extravaganzas produced by Hollywood studios.


“Boy and the World.”

MPAA rating: PG for thematic material and images.

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Playing: Laemmle Noho 7, North Hollywood.