Daily mini-review: The Book Of Life (Netflix)

‘The world keeps spinning, and the tales keep turning, and people come and people go, but they’re never forgotten. And the one truth we know, it held true one more time… That love, true love, the really, really good kind of love never dies.’

Released in 2014 it’s a perfect film for all the family, which has been largely and extremely undeservedly overshadowed by the 2017 Disney Pixar movie Coco. Both films are about The Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico on November 2nd. The Day Of The Dead is not a time of sadness but time of celebration and remembrance of loved ones who have passed away – a celebration of life not loss.

The Book Of Life starts off in a museum, where an enthusiastic tour guide begins to tell a folktale to a group of misbehaving kids on a school trip. The story she tells is a bet set on the Day Of The Dead between La Muerte, the ruler of the Land of the Remembered and her husband Xibalba, the ruler of the Land of the Forgotten. They observe two young boys, Manolo and Joaquin, competing for the heart of their friend Maria – the two rulers strike a wager over which boy Maria will marry.

With some divine supernatural intervention along the way, we follow all three young people are they grow up and face all manner of family expectations and traditions. When things go tragically wrong, one of them must make a trip to the Land Of The Dead, embarking on afterlife adventure in the name of true love.

The film is beautifully animated with some breath-taking imagery. The use of colour is particularly striking, vibrantly expressing life, love and joy. The film is also notable for being produced by Gulliemro Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape Of Water), and this film has links to thematically to his back catalogue – telling a tale of finding acceptance and love in the most unlikely of circumstances.

The soundtrack is phenomenal with original songs and Mexican infused cover versions including Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ and Mumford and Son’s ‘I Will Wait’. The stand-out song is a beautiful slice of romantic folk/pop called ‘No Matter Where You Are’ by Us The Duo.  Which epitomises the film’s joy and charm.

The Book Of Life is about friendship and family, love in all it’s various forms. It’s romantic, charming and utterly delightful. It’s a balm to the soul right now!

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