Its almost February 26th and I’ve dedicated myself to watch as many Oscar nominated films as I can. Unlike years past, this time around I haven’t seen much of anything and am currently tracking down anything available to watch. Hence why I decided to watch rent Life, Animated on the same plane ride I watched The Love Witch and Captain Fantastic.
I presume documentaries to be the most important films in delivering important information to mass audiences. There’s something powerful about the realism they depict and with the great documentarians of today such as Asif Kapadia and Laura Poitras constantly reinventing the way documentaries are told, its always worth checking out the Oscar’s selections for what they deem the Best Documentaries of the Year. Honestly, I was rather disappointed with Life, Animated, with the only other Oscar nominated doc. I’ve watched this year being 13th, a remarkable study of racial politics in American history, Life, Animated just seemed like a run-of-mill life-affirming tale. It seems odd to discount life-affirming stories, especially such powerful ones as these but all Life, Animated does is present us with this beautiful story that we might as well could’ve read or looked up online because the way the film presents doesn’t do anything new for the genre.
That being said, there is an attempt at weaving in the story with a script Owen Suskind writes that is illustrated with a beautiful animation style that does elevate the film from a standardized documentary to something with more gravitas. But, even taking that into account and comparing it to the incredible amount of documentaries that came out last year like Kate Plays Christine, Weiner, De Palma, or The Eagle Huntress, Life, Animated is good but not necessarily among the greats.
I’ll keep this review brief as Life, Animated doesn’t do much of anything remarkable with the way it presents its story. Is the story important? Yes, it is a powerful, beautiful story about how people overcome conditions like autism and reestablish themselves into society as victors. Is the story told in a captivating way or groundbreaking way? No, despite the strong emotional core driving the story and the powerful nature of it, the way its presented is rather dull as the film doesn’t offer anything new to the art of documentaries. As a whole, Life, Animated is a great story that’s not told as well as it deserves.