This dialogue-free French/Japanese animated fable — a low-key adventure about an unnamed shipwrecked beardo who falls in love with nature — might serve as a potent antidote for post-Election depression.
The legion of animators, led by Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli production company, inspire awe for the great outdoors with hand-drawn charcoal illustrations of lush bamboo forests and crystalline shorelines. Everything on the island, from the rustling of leaves to the buzzing of cicadas, encourages Beardo — and us — to slow down to the pace of stargazing and crab chasing. Once the bewitching title character is introduced, co-writer/director Michael Dudok de Wit and co-writer Pascale Ferran’s man-vs.-nature narrative also gradually downshifts and turns into a dreamy hangout drama.
The never-named turtle, who inexplicably transforms into a waifish human woman, teaches Beardo how to enjoy island life, and they eat raw clams and take leisurely swims together. The mesmerizing spell that Studio Ghibli’s animators cast threatens to break once Beardo and his mate have nothing to do but enjoy each other’s company.
Thankfully, there’s always something absorbing happening on the island, even if it’s only baby turtles migrating, or a sudden rainstorm. Forget Canada: The Red Turtle will make you want to abandon the Divided States of America in order to discover your own private island paradise.
The Red Turtle
Directed by Michael Dudok de Wit
Sony Pictures Classics
Opens November 18, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas