Enzo d’Alò signs perhaps his best work with Mary and the Midnight Spirit, an all-female animated fairy tale, seeking universality in an all-Irish story, from the novel by Roddy Doyle. Here is our review of the film.
At eleven, the Irishman Mary she is a rebellious spirit: although her mother Scarlett opposes her, she would like to become one great chefwith the complicity of his grandmother, the combative Emer. The mysterious appearance of another woman, Tansey, will manage to align all the female generations of the familyto make peace with dreams, aspirations… and even with existence itself.
Based on the novel “The midnight trip” Of Roddy Doyle, Mary and the Midnight Spirit can be seriously considered the work of the full maturity of Enzo d’Alò: one of the most active names in our animation, with a resume of films as beloved as The blue arrow, Momo and especially The seagull and the cathere Enzo, who adapts the book with Dave Ingham, starts from the work of one celebrated writerto build your own path. A path which in this case is cinematically very balanced: we have never denied our sympathy for d’Alò’s style, but at times his focus on childhood had overloaded the scenes a bit, chasing playful suggestions despite narrative solidity. This almost never happens in Mary and the Midnight Spirit, which the director brings to the finish line with necessary breakstherefore also giving to his aesthetic strategies the time to best place yourself in the flow of the story: just think of the evocative effectiveness that some have dream sequences, as is usual with d’Alò entrusted to collaborators who set a different style from the rest of the film. The visionary work of the Portuguese animator Regina Pessoa for the dog’s nightmare is notable, but you don’t even forget the way Marco Zanoni he translated the character designer’s rough lines into pencil animation Peter DeSève.
In a world of cinema (and animation) that increasingly celebrates the female figured’Alò immerses himself in the Irish matriarchal culture to follow well four generationsretouching the autobiographical necessity of Doyle’s work with the universal message. The result is a positive film hybrid of multiple cultural and cinematographic sensitivities: an echo of the great animated heroines in the design of the American DeSève; attention to the evocative power of nature, the rural dimension and esotericism with ghosts (which we normally encounter more often in oriental productions); a powerfully European musical fabric, thanks to the music of David Rhodes, which after The Seagull and the Cat gives a more international flavor to the more folkloristic Irish sounds. The final ingredient is in the setting of a cooking class and in the celebration of food as cultural transmission: it is a theme introduced in the film, where the gastronomic perspective, to which an Italian tends by nature, embraces the tradition of others (the dish that has a symbolic function in the film is the “poor” Colcannon).
Some moments are perhaps a little weighed down by one too much sweetness in some dialogues, but they are affected parentheses that do not overflow so much as to compromise the character of the proposal. Its creation, attentive to the detail of the environments and good in the 2D animation of the characters, makes Mary and the Midnight Spirit one interesting show and sincerely multicultural.