Encanto, without wasting any time, quickly launches into introductions. Within minutes, we are made aware of the characters and their superpowers. There is a miraculous candle with a magical flame responsible for providing superpowers to the members of the Madrigal family. If Isabela (Diane Guerrero) can bloom flowers, Pepa (Carolina Gaitán) can control the weather. Luisa (Jessica Darrow) is so strong she can lift and relocate the church. There is a shape-shifter, an animal whisperer, and a seer. No one is willing to talk about the last person, and he has apparently left the household. Abuela (María Cecilia Botero) is the matriarch of the family who strives to keep everyone together.
Finally, there is Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). She sings about how happy she is to be a part of the Madrigal family. But her declaration promptly starts to sound forced and persistent. You detect the problem yourself when Mirabel purposefully dodges any questions related to her superpowers. You see, she has none of the “special gifts” that the other members of her family possess. This makes her an “outsider” in her own house. Mirabel tries hard to impress, but no one really appreciates her efforts (except for her parents). Abuela instructs her to stay away from important functions so as to not cause any trouble.
A kid says to Mirabel that her gift is being in denial. The rest of the film will show that this particular “gift” extends to the whole family. The one who is strong from the outside is also very vulnerable from the inside. The one who is considered perfect is actually bored by perfection and is just following orders for the sake of the other’s happiness, even if it means sacrificing their personal gratification. Everyone is putting up a sham when all they need to do is talk to each other about their insecurities.
Easier said than done. The characters find it easier to pretend than to open up. Abuela, too, plays the denial game by constantly ignoring and proclaiming, “The magic is strong! Everything is fine! We’re the Madrigals!” even when her home is being literally torn into pieces. Maybe wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes, the elders themselves become villains when they attempt to forcefully and tightly hold a facile relationship together. Of course, they have their reasons, and Encanto wants us to understand the other person’s motivations before we end up drawing false conclusions. It’s a good message, and it’s delivered in a way that is easy to follow for both the kids as well as the adults. Encanto is a sweet movie that does its job without being dumb or pretentious.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.