Book of Life movie review

Guillermo del Toro set his ambitions high when he began producing Book of Life. Several studios turned down the concept because it was a movie about the Mexican holiday Dia de Los Muertos set in, you know, Mexico, whose holidays are not so often seen in the mainstream media, which led to hesitance on the part of the producers. But Guillermo del Toro was persistent in getting his idea off the ground.
Now, after a decade in the works, the movie has hit theaters,
And it. Is. Fantastic.
It captures just how alive this day of the dead really is, showing traditions and beliefs in a cartoony and happy setting, which is exactly how it is meant to be. The animation is whimsical and bright, much like the decorations usually seen during Dia de Los Muertos. The afterlife depicted is one big, long party, and the dead celebrate alongside the living.
And as cartoony as the characters may look, the story is far from two dimensional. The love story isn’t a carbon copy love triangle, it makes very clear who the real couple is in the trio of Maria, Manolo, and Joaquin. Maria and Manolo are very clearly in love, but Joaquin, son of the town hero following in his father’s footsteps, is also in love with Maria, and in the place of a usually pompous suitor, is a multifaceted character who is a pivotal point in the (fantastically written and even more fantastically performed) story.
This trio makes the movie absolutely fantastic, showing more than one kind of relationship between men and women, something very refreshing in this era of love “triangles.”
The writing is playful and witty, and above all, adorable.
I’m definitely not one for love stories, but Diego Luna’s (Manolo’s) serenades melted my heart. The pop music given a Mexican border sound adds to the charm of the movie.
If you aren’t drawn to the beautiful art, then go for the rich cultural background with an equally wonderful story.