The Breadwinner

breadwinnerThe Breadwinner, 2017, Dir. Nora Twomey. Now on general release at cinemas.
Review by
 Maya Boustany

Nora Twomey’s animated masterpiece, The Breadwinner, transports the rich storytelling tradition of Twomey’s Ireland to Kabul. The film, an adaptation of Deborah Ellis’ bestselling book of the same name, tells the story of a family living under Taliban rule through the experiences of 11 year-old Parvana, who must take on the role of provider for her family. The Breadwinnerhas been lauded as a modern feminist classic to counter the slew of saccharine animation targeted at children (no princesses in sight). This is not empty praise, as the film’s feminist credentials stack up. Twomey explores each of the female relationships in the story, allowing each character to expand and enrich the film; something female characters are so often robbed of. Most joyous is the adventure Parvana and her friend Shauzia are afforded by Ellis’ novel and Twomey’s animation. The girls run amok around Kabul, fearless and spirited. The subject matter is undoubtedly heavy (particularly when we remember the book is a YA title) and Twomey refuses to sugar-coat the subjugation of Afghan women throughout. The film’s descent into Parvana’s imagination provide a counter to this, with the animation sweeping us into the mind of our protagonist. She acts as storyteller to friends and family, her tales rooted in Afghan oral tradition and utilised as a means of survival in her unescapable reality. Like Persepolis and Waltz with Bashir before it, animation softens The Breadwinner’sthemes, making it palatable for an audience who may not rush to see a film about a foreign conflict. Please do rush to see The Breadwinner, and dispel the pervading myth that female protagonists don’t equate to box office success

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