Movie Review: Disney's Coco

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Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt

Directed by: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Released: 2017
Length: 1h 45m

One of my favorite things about my city is the way the whole place comes alive in the fall and winter months. There are loads of festivals and events, and I love that when I'm feeling up to it, I can take my kids out to do something fun without wrecking my back or my wallet. This past week, we were able to see a great screening of Coco, which I had been wanting to see for ages - and seeing it on Market Square made the experience even more rich!

The girls and I loaded a backpack full of bottled drinks and various snacks, headed down to the square, and found ourselves a comfy place to spread a blanket.

This movie hit me directly in the heart right from the beginning. I had known I was going to like it, but when it started out with the story of a single mother giving her all to making a life for herself and her child, my heart clutched itself up in my chest and my breath got stuck. I caught Josephine looking over at me from her spot just to my right, and I pretended to be fine - but I was hooked.

Over the course of the movie, I fell in love with little Miguel and his desperate desire to be accepted for who he was rather than who everyone around him wanted him to be; as a little girl, I was the weird misfit among my friends and family, so I could relate to him. I was the only bookworm for the most part, the only yarncrafter for the most part, and certainly the only writer - a perfect parallel to a movie about a boy who is the only musician in his family.

I felt the same peace as Miguel as he created a secret space in which to indulge his love of music, felt the same anguish as he was forbidden to play, felt the same heartbreak of betrayal as he left behind the security of home in hopes of finding a way to chase his dreams. I felt his hope, the very same hope upon which my writing dream was built - and I felt the remnants of the sense of belonging and rightness I get from writing as I watched Miguel finally have a chance to perform.

But Mama Coco ... I wept when the story turned to focus on her. Her face, so like my mother's, crinkled with age and struggle, her dementia so like that of my grandmother. When she looked at her own daughter and didn't know her, I cried because I saw at once my mother's pain over being forgotten ... and my own future as I am forgotten by my own mother. Dementia is setting in for her already, and I'm not quite sure how to handle that.

I've been prepared for my mother's death (much as one can be) for a long time due her ill health and my tendency to face difficult things head-on ... but dementia? Alzheimer's is a whole new thing, something I would never have expected for my grandmother, let alone my mother. Not to mention, the movie combined with my familial history to address in a starkly terrifying way my own fear of someday losing myself within the confines of my own mind.

Still the emotional depth and richness of plot made this my new favorite Disney movie of all time - at this point, it's been two days since I saw it, and I still haven't quite recovered yet. I'm looking forward to making time to see it again as soon as possible too. In the meantime, I've been watching (and reading) other peoples' stories almost non-stop lately. It's time for me to go work on my own ...

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