The Red Turtle, B
Rated PG, 80 minutes
The touching animated fantasy "The Red Turtle" is an unconventional yet heartfelt ode to many of the stages through a human's life: love, birth, death and hardships. The 2016 Japanese production from Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, the same studio that made Miyazaki's 2002 Oscar-winning "Spirited Away," is nominated for this year's Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, is worth a look, and while it's suitable for the entire family, young ones may become a little restless with it.
A massive sea turtle destroys a stranded man's raft every time he tries to sail away from a tropical island. Through the story of the shipwrecked man on a tropical island inhabited by turtles, crabs and birds, The Red Turtle recounts the milestones in the life of a human being.
Written and directed by Dutch filmmaker Michael Dudok de Wit, the odd but moving "The Red Turtle" is enhanced by strong visuals and a peaceful quality to it. With almost no dialogue throughout the film, "Red Turtle" takes some time to grow and develop, but once it does, take time to notice some lovely and striking moments that de Wit has crafted as the shipwrecked man realizes his life isn't as desolate as he initially believed.
Those lovely moments are usually the simplest too: birds flying overhead, a moonlight sky over the sea, a dancing couple on the beach, a baby toddling out to the waves, and of course those busy, crawling crabs, who have a life of their own and come close to stealing the film. Through these moments, we realize how precious and simple that life can be, and to savor the quieter moments, no doubt one of the many reasons that de Wit has such minimal dialogue in "Red Turtle."
With such quietness and a slower tone, especially in a mildly sluggish first act, "The Red Turtle" has an artsy sheen to it, and younger kids, as well as adults who enjoy lots of dialogue and action, may not enjoy it as much. It's their loss, as we should often take time to stop and smell the roses, or in this case, stop and feel the sand on your feet.