Don’t let the fact that The Breadwinner uses the format of animation to drive home its message fool you.
Or the fact that the true heroine in this 2017 movie adapted from Deborah Ellis’ young adult novel is a girl who’s not yet hit her teen years.
Cartoon Saloon and director Nora Twomey are serious and superb with this story of Parvana, an 11-year-old girl who watches with great angst as the Taliban rushes into her Afghanistan home and hauls her teacher father away to prison. Then her mother is punished physically and emotionally when the two of them go futilely in an attempt to get him out. An older sister and infant child are, basically, helpless in this country of turmoil, a place where women have no rights.
But somebody must go out in the streets to fetch water, sell possessions, make money, find food.
Parvana finds a former classmate who clues her into a scheme. Keep hair short under a cap. Take on a boy’s name. Travel freely. Earn money for the family and … dream, plot, maneuver.
That’s a hard life, all around, as Taliban soldiers and countrymen prepare for an impending conflict.
Parvana sticks to a storytelling skills, in her mind and to others, that eases some of the emotional anguish.
The simple animation and dark colors seem just right for a tale of such basic horror.
And yet hope remains in many hearts.
The voices of Sara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Latif, Ali Bradshaw, Kawasaki Ada and Noorin Gulamgaus move the message along with the right amount of despair, passion and humanity.
It’s a big world out there, and we need to see the many edges and interpretations.
Central New Yorkers can view The Breadwinner for free as part of the Liverpool Public Libary’s Mixed Bag Movies Series at 3:30 p.m. Friday, May 4, in the Carman Community Room. There also will be free popcorn and beverages.