Tuesday, 16 August 2016

REVIEW - PETE'S DRAGON (DAVID LOWERY)


Credit to any movie that can make me cry twice within the first five minutes. David Lowery may pull on my heartstrings all he likes - Pete's Dragon is a wondrous family film, and primarily so for its emotional potency. Steer well clear if you're not the type who enjoys being goaded to the point of sobbing, because this film goes in! It's testament to Lowery's sensitivity as a storyteller and as a director of actors that he's able to elicit such a response from this particularly cold-hearted reviewer so early on, never mind such an intense one. He analyzes human trauma in delicate fashion, emphasizing its harrowing nature in stressing its most vivid tenets - the desperate emptiness, and the resolve that one seeks to overcome it. Pete's Dragon's human elements are easily its most cogent; as Lowery makes concessions to Disney to render this complex emotional story suitable for their young demographic, he stumbles. Excessive anthropomorphism (one example among many of the film's liberties with plot and logic, largely forgivable), the jettisoning of a promising subtext and the dramatic stagnancy that seeps into the film courtesy of Lowery's (otherwise welcome) patience all compromize the artistry, a subtle but salient artistry that serves its narrative and themes, rather than decorates them. The most fully-realized of those themes is one which Lowery has explored before: home and family, how we define them and how they define us. This is a universal theme, but not one on which this film has nothing convincing to comment. A sweet, rewarding film, made to make hearts soar, even more likely to make the stock price of Kleenex soar.