Vivo (2021) is not just another cutesy talking animal animated feature. Watching it is like attending a Broadway performance.
Vivo (2021) Synopsis
Andrés and Marta are Cuban music partners who parted after Marta headed to the US to further her career; Andrés didn’t want his love for Marta to hinder her growth. Decades later, Andrés unexpectedly receives a letter from Marta inviting him to reunite in Miami, but before he could set off, he tragically passes away in his sleep. It is then up to Andrés’ new partner, the singing kinkajou Vivo, to fulfil his beloved friend’s final wish.
Vivo debuted on Netflix over a week ago but truth be told, I barely paid any attention to it. Though I tend to enjoy animated features, I thought it was just another cutesy talking animal thingy.
Yeah, adorable talking animal characters whose stories then explore some bigger truth about life. Uplifting as most such features typically are, there’s just too many of them in recent years, aren’t there?
Just weeks ago, we had Wish Dragon. By extension, we also had cute monster shows like Luca and Dragon Rider.
Well, the story for Vivo certainly contains no twists or surprises. The themes that it explores have also long been cinematically examined, with the ending, one that you could predict right from the start.
But don’t get me wrong, this is in no way a boring show. “By the books” as it might be, it is a sumptuous visual extravaganza of the best of 2021 animation technology, further brought to life by splendidly composed and sung musical pieces. Songs that, might I add, vary quite a bit in style and delivery too.
It’s like watching a Broadway or West End production, I kid you not.
Yup, it truly has that stage musical sensation; incidentally, lead Lin-Manuel Miranda is celebrated for his Broadway music roles. The lavish renditions of Havana and Miami, and the Everglades, furthermore serve as the perfect backdrops for their respective set pieces. The most exuberant ones even feature sweeping cinematography and the symbolic gathering of adoring audiences. Entirely the same as what you’d often see in stage musicals.
And then there are the 2D sequences, tastefully injected during poignant moments to denote memories. I can’t put my finger on the exact art style, but the illustrations immediately reminded me of Latin Jazz CD compilations and the likes of. More so than the 3D Cuban architecture, these 2D moments completed the Caribbean sensation for me.
In all, a very satisfying watch, despite the standard story. Had I watched it in a cinema, I would have enjoyed it even more.
With shame, I admit too that I had no idea what a kinkajou was before the show; I thought Vivo was some sort of monkey. (!) As far as wildlife is concerned, this show also made me a little more aware.
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