The Breadwinner (12A)

Drama (2017)
93mins Ire/Can/Lux

Starring: Shaista Latif, Saara Chaudry, Laara Sadiq, Soma Bhatia
Director: Nora Twomey
Writer(s): Anita Doron
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

A young girl called Parvana lives in Kabul, Afghanistan with her father Nurullah, mother Fattema, older sister Soraya and baby Zaki. The capital is under the control of the Taliban and the family attempts to keep a low profile for fear of reprisals. When Nurullah is unjustly arrested, Parvana follows the advice of another girl in the neighbourhood, Shauzia, and dresses as a boy to pose as the man of the household. It is a perilous course of action.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Breadwinner (12A)

Hope takes root in the barren wilderness of present-day Afghanistan in Nora Twomey's beguiling drama, which was deservedly nominated as Best Animated Feature at this year's Academy Awards. Based on the book by Deborah Ellis, The Breadwinner is a beautifully crafted and deeply moving celebration of the fragile human spirit as seen through the tear-filled eyes of a family struggling to make ends meet under a brutal regime that subjugates women...

The Breadwinner. Copyright: StudioCanal. Caption: Parvana (voiced by Saara Chaudry) in The Beadwinner, directed by Nora Twomey. All Rights Reserved.Twomey's film doesn't shy away from depicting the intimidation and punishment of female characters including one scene of a mother being bludgeoned with a walking stick for daring to leave her house without a male guardian. Violence is meted out off-screen but we hear and feel every sickening blow and share the victims' sense of injustice that silently rages behind their swollen and bruised lips. Expressive and vibrant hand-drawn visuals alternate between an earthy palette for battle-scarred reality and an explosion of retina-searing colour for the fantastical fables that family members share to temporarily salve their pain. "Stories always remain in our hearts, even when all else is gone," tenderly counsels one father. Twomey's film certainly lingers in the mind well after the end credits roll.

Eleven-year-old Parvana (voiced by Saara Chaudry) lives in Kabul with her father Nurullah (Ali Badshah), mother Fattema (Laara Sadiq), older sister Soraya (Shaista Latif) and baby brother Zaki. The capital is under the yoke of the Taliban, which enforces restrictions on women's freedom of movement, forbidding wives and daughters from leaving the family home without a male companion. Following an altercation in the marketplace with a spiteful Taliban enforcer (Noorin Gulamgaus), Nurullah is incarcerated and Fattema and her brood become prisoners in their home. Consequently, Parvana cuts off her hair and dons the garb of a boy to pose as her cousin Aatish so she can buy provisions and earn money by reading letters aloud to illiterate neighbours. In her new apparel, Parvana encounters another girl in disguise called Shauzia (Soma Bhatia), who excitedly whispers, "When you're a boy, you can go anywhere you like!" It is a perilous deception but Parvana is determined to earn sufficient money to bribe a Talib guard at the prison to speak to her father before the family moves to Mazar to seal an arranged marriage for Soraya.

The Breadwinner confirms the power of animation to distil complex emotional stories with sensitivity and stylistic flair. Twomey's parable of defiance skilfully weaves together parallel narrative threads that resonate loudly in the current political climate. Even its bleakest moments, there are glimmers of hope amidst the rubble that dry our tears and swell our hearts.

- Jo Planter

The Breadwinner. Copyright: StudioCanal. Caption: Parvana (voiced by Saara Chaudry) in The Beadwinner, directed by Nora Twomey. All Rights Reserved.

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