The Breadwinner TIFF Review

TIFF Review: The Breadwinner

Score: A-

Director: Nora Twomey

Cast: Saara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Laara Sadiq, Shaista Letif

Running Time: 93 Minutes

Rated: PG

“It is rain that makes the flowers grow, not thunder.”

Based on Deborah Ellis’ award-winning novel, Nora Twomey’s The Breadwinner is a truly unique film that pays respect to its source material.  Told through the eyes of an 11-year-old Afghan girl, the rich animation gives way to tremendous storytelling, revealing the power that lies within love, family and courage.

Best known for her work on 2009’s The Secret of Kells, Twomey has a history of remarkably complex and busy animation.  She brings that experience to the forefront here as she employs a mixture of texture and style, giving us a truly remarkable story that is both intellectual intriguing and visually stimulating.

Set in the Taliban-controlled city of Kabul, The Breadwinner centers on Parvana, a young woman whose father has forgone the countries customs.  Showering them with love and affection, he has taught the women in his family to read, write, and most of all, dream.  But when he is wrongfully imprisoned by a former student, Parvana’s life is struck by a long line of misfortunes.

It is at this moment that Twomey does her most brilliant work.  Instead of sending Parvana into a deep, dark hole, she gives here a voice of reason and a fighter’s intuition.  Building on the lessons her father taught her, our heroine fights against the customs, taking matters into her own hands as she finds a way to walk about town, find work and purchase food - all the while attempting to free her father.  Seamlessly becoming the family’s breadwinner, Parvana serves as a beacon of light within the dark times that have engulfed her family.

Twomey masterfully captures the rough and vicious landscape that is Kabul.  Without digging too hard into the politics she permits Parvana’s story to do the talking, entrusting her audience to listen and piece together the details on their own.  The film educates without lecturing, and the storytelling radiates a bold sense of imagination, proving just how high one can fly when their mind is allowed to dream.

Within the first few weeks we witness a child transform into a woman.  Her voice, once a wide spraying rebellion chant without a centered purpose, suddenly has intent and direction.  And our lead protagonist shows how one can fight the system without violence, evoking the use of storytelling to dig deep within her own soul, find her inner courage, and rise to the occasion.  The storytelling opens the film to other mediums of animation as well, providing a plethora of designs and techniques that bring a new, positive spirit to the story.

If the animation doesn’t attract you to this incredible film then the story itself should.  Though told through a young woman’s eyes, the message of love, family and courage translates to all.  Much like her own, Parvana’s love of stories and ability in which to share them is nothing short of inspirational.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.

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