Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
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There’s a plethora (si jefe) of sappy dog movies out there that are designed to pull at your heart strings. Films like A Dog’s Journey, Marley & Me, or Racing In the Rain all are designed from the ground up to hit that sappy note that has you crying about man’s best friend. Luckily French writer/director Anca Damian’s Marona’s Fantastic Tale isn’t one of them. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have it’s tear jerking moments, but the French animated film is adamant about about just showing the audience a pup’s life as seen through the eyes of a canine. There isn’t a whole lot of joy in the film’s story, but not only is it meant to depress you and having you sobbing from sadness. Anca deftly weaves a story of confusion, love, despair, and ultimately peace as a single pup named Marona lives her life from a rough up bringing, to the her final resting spot as a loved pup.
Marona (just named 9 at the beginning of the film) comes from humble beginnings. She’s the ninth pup of a litter that was unexpected. After being taken from her mother and brothers/sisters to the owner of the father, poor Marona is thrust into a world of chaos and fear. Said owner (drawn to be a rich snob) tosses her out as soon as she’s been gifted the pup, and the little runt is soon picked up by a street performer and named Sara (voiced by Lizzie Brochere). Sara and her human are blissfully happy as can be, as she helps with his street act, and he provides her with a safe home and warm bed. After his greed gets the better of him and he’s pulled to a local circus that doesn’t want the dog, Sara runs away into the night, to once more scrounge for herself.
Soon after she’s befriended by a local construction worker at his local build project, and soon becomes inseparable. However, good things come to an end when said worker’s job is done and he’s forced to figure out what to do with a little dog. He tries to take her to his arthritis ridden mother, but that doesn’t work out, and even taking little Sara under his own wing isn’t as great as they would have hoped due to his horrible taste in girlfriends.
Marona’s Fantastic Tale is a bittersweet drama that is more concerned about style over telling a cohesive story. The film is visually awe inspiring, using a mixture of various hand drawn and watercolor art styles blended with surreal visual aesthetics to tell the story of love and devotion, pain and sadness. Just watch each particular character that Marona/Sara runs across and watch their visual cues and art styles. Each character in the movie has a story to tell, and most of said story is NOT told through the dialog. It’s a fascinating project to watch unfold and really the only thing that keeps Marona’s Fantastic Tale from being truly AMAZING, is the fact that Anca Damian sometimes gets a little TOO involve with the visuals, leaving the written narrative a bit disjointed at times.
As I said, Marona is not an overly sappy love story about a puppy, but neither is it is a depressing drama either. Instead it tells it’s tale through the eyes and interpreted by a canine’s understanding of the world. It doesn’t understand human abandonment the same way we do, and neither does it understand happiness the same way. While the story isn’t intrinsically happy and upbeat, there is enough joy and peace to go around in the dog’s life as she finds her center and ability to hold onto the simple joys and pleasures of just living in a cruel world.
Not Rated By the MPAA
• Q&A At Animation Is Film Festival
• Art Gallery
Marona’s Fantastic Tale is a sweet, kind, bitter, sad, and totally mesmerizing film that relies heavily on surreal artistry. The movie is one you have to pay rapt attention to in order to pick up on all of the subtle visual story aids and actually benefits a lot from a second viewing. I really REALLY enjoyed the French film more than I expected to, especially after I got used to the non traditional animation style that took me a good 15 minutes to acclimate to. Shout Factory’s Blu-ray is lovingly done in the audio and video department with some sold extras to accompany the sweet film. Definitely something to check out if you’re a dog lover and looking for a “different” type of dog film.
Starring: Lizzie Brochere, Bruno Salomone, Thierry Hancisse, Nathalie Boutefeu, Shirelle Mai-Yvart
Directed by: Anca Damian
Written by: Anca Damian
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Studio: Shout Factory
Runtime: 92 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: November 10th, 2020
Recommendation: Highly Recommended