Anina is a charming film from Uruguay. And happened to be on my most wanted list from last year’s international animated film releases.
The style in Anina will strike you first as you can plainly see. It has a cut paper-quality complete with angular and somewhat awkward motion. The layers of a scene as well as the colors and washes bring a folksy simplicity to the movie which is carried through in the narrative.
The film begins with Anina going home from school on the bus, she informs us that she is in big trouble. Earlier at recess Anina and the bigger “elephant girl” Isel got in a fight and were sent to the principal who told them they must bring their parents to school the next day. Why were the fighting? Because Anina is a “palindrome girl,” her first and both last names are spelled the same backwards and forwards, she is made fun of on a constant basis.
But Anina doesn’t come across as a downtrodden girl who is bullied. She has a good friend, she stands up for herself, but she is still just a bit of an outcast. Which she hopelessly blames her parents for any chance she gets while in their presence. The family aspect, especially between Anina and her father (who, surprisesurprise, loves palindromes), are some of the best parts of the movie and generally hilarious.
Anina and Isel are each tasked by the principal who hold on to a sealed envelope for one week and not to open it or there will be dire consequences. This sort of sends Anina’s imagination on a wild ride over the course of the running time. There is a brief attempt by Anina and her friend to steal Isel’s envelope. This task also brings both girls closer together as Anina starts to really notice what Isel does each day. And in moving fashion realizes that maybe she, Anina, might be a bully, too.
One small technical issue to mention: the subtitles. While I can’t speak to the accuracy of the translation, I can comment on the timing. There were more than a few times the subs were either too fast or too slow. There were even a couple of times when no subs showed up. And in a couple of weird places the subs jumped forward then repeated, no idea how that even happened. I know that many times subs are rushed for film festivals, so I’m not complaining, I just hope if there is a wider release or a home video release that they are cleaned up.
Anina is a simple story with heart and humor and of course great animation.