The Breadwinner - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    Apr 4, 2017
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    The Breadwinner

    Movie: :4stars:
    Video: :4stars:
    Audio: :4stars:
    Extras: :3stars:
    Final Score: :4stars:

    [​IMG] Movie

    Animated films have LONG since abolished the notion that cartoons are just for kids any more, and I’m not talking about Japanese Anime or stuff like How to Train your Dragon (which appeals to both adults and children equally). Instead, it has become a medium that allows for much darker and more serious stories to be told (much like the recently reviewed The Girl Without Hands). Instead of just making kids jokes, we have fully fleshed out dramas that could be seen as a live action film without even a second thought if we think about it. Gkids has become a leader in this method of animated storytelling, pulling in foreign animated films over the years and releasing them via Shout Factory or Universal studios, and this time it’s a little gem called The Breadwinner.

    Set in modern day Afghanistan, Parvana (Saara Chaudry) is the youngest daughter of a crippled school teacher named Nurullah (Ali Badshah), who is now forced to sell goods on the side of the road after losing his leg in the war. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as selling goods in the city. The Taliban has taken over the area and after Parvana shouts out to a little dog, thus drawing attention to herself, the heavily traditional (and hateful) men and boys follow the two home and take Nurullah off in the dead of night for educating a woman. Starving, with only a little food less and the lowly status of a female in Sharia law embittered Afghanistan, Parvana, her sister, her mother Fattema (Laara Sadiq) and her infant brother are going to die as a result of their gender limitations in that society.

    Refusing to give up, Parvana cuts her her and dresses in her dead brother’s clothes in an attempt to keep her family alive. The initial experiment works, allowing Parvana to take on the mantle of the “privileged” sex of being male, and is allowed to roam around the city without fear. Food is able to be bought, and even odd jobs around the market allow Parvana to feed the family with enough to survive. However, Nurullah is still being held without bail in the prison, and the young girl will not rest until she has not only provided for her family, but has gotten her father out as their facade will not last forever.
    The Breadwinner is a very, very, dark film. One that explores the modern day troubles of living as a female inside of war torn Afghanistan. Nora Twomey’s film paints a very bleak picture of life there, showing just how cruelly and inhumanely women are being treated there. It’s a sobering reminder that sometimes the “oppression” we suffer over her in the west is nothing but a pale imitation of what the real thing is like for some cultures. Parvana is stronger and more resilient than most ADULTS over on this side of the world, and it’s heart breaking to watch her youth be stolen from her like. Simultaneously it’s also quite beautiful to see the dedication and strength demonstrated by the young girl as she over comes these incredible obstacles. One by one the girl allows herself to survive, and sacrifices so VERY much to keep her family safe, as well as risk life and limb to make sure her crippled father is set free (if she can).

    The movie is lovingly crafted, and despite the bleak tonal nature of the film, contrasts that bleakness and banal nature with a brilliantly bright color palate that really dazzles. The deep maroons and earthy reds of the Afghani desert are offset by startlingly bright greens, reds, and sharp blues of the little tales that Parvana tells her brother to comfort his fears. The artwork is so simple, yet so elegantly done that you get lost in the beauty of it all and forget about the hardships and pain that the characters suffer through on a daily basis. While the movie is not hostile or aggressive in tone, it is also one of the most unpolitically cultural films I have seen in a long time. No punches are pulled. No elements of the society softened (except some of the REALLY brutal things that can not be portrayed in even a PG-13 film), and it points the finger harshly at the inhuman violations that unfortunately happen in that area of the world.


    Rated PG-13 for thematic material including some violent images

    Video: :4stars:
    The 2.39:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray is really an excellent demonstration of how fantastic animation can look. The exquisitely designed animation is complimented by a very luscious looking color palate that really shines in every aspect. Watch the deep maroon of Parvana’s cloak, or the shiny red of her favorite dress that the family is trying to sell. Even the earthy, dusty browns of the Afghani desert are beautifully rendered. Blacks are deep and inky, but there are a few visual anomolies that mar the picture from being truly excellent. The main one being some banding that comes and goes in the sky, as well as close ups of face show horizontal banding. A little edge shimmering shows up, but other than those two issues, the Blu-ray looks really REALLY well done.

    Audio: :4stars:
    The 5.1 English DTS-HD MA track is as good as the video. It’s not a wildly powerful or kinetic track, but the 5.1 mix is very good for what it is. Musical definition is clear and potent, with a strong representation across the sound stage. The lilting Arabic tones flow evenly through the 6 channels, and dialog is firmly centered in the middle of the room. Surrounds are mild, but they still are quite detailed. Especially in the marketplace where the hubbub of a thousand voices seems to encompass the listening position. LFE is deep and powerful, yet used judiciously and as an accompaniment for the music and the few moments of boisterous activity

    Extras: :3stars:

    • Introduction by director Nora Twomey and executive producer Angelina Jolie
    • Audio commentary with the filmmakers
    • The Making of The Breadwinner
    • Original Trailer

    Final Score: :4stars:

    The Breadwinner has been lauded the world over for not just being an emotionally resonate film, but also one that is incredibly accurate as well. The cultural moires and nuances have been given a very heavy dose of authenticity, and was a VERY close second for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars this year (supposedly Coco won out, but I wouldn’t complain over either film, as they are both incredible). The movie is delicately done, but crafted with such love, such heart, and such pain that you can feel every emotional like a raw nerve. The Blu-ray itself is given a nice looking and sounding releases on home video, as well as some very solid extras to boot. Recommended as a great watch.

    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Saara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Noorin Gulamgus
    Directed by: Nora Twomey
    Written by: Anita Doron (Screenplay), Deborah Ellis (Screenplay and book)
    Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
    Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
    Subtitles: English
    Studio: Universal
    Rated: PG-13
    Runtime: 93 minutes
    Blu-Ray Release Date: March 6th, 2018

    Recommendation: Great Watch

    tripplej likes this.
  2. tripplej

    tripplej AV Enthusiast

    Jul 13, 2017
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    Thanks for the review. Never heard of this one but after reading about it, I am interested in checking it out. Will look out for it.
  3. Asere

    Asere AV Addict

    Apr 14, 2017
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    It's on my to watch list on Netflix. Thanks for the review.
    Michael Scott likes this.

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