DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'll start by saying that I did not care for the songs that much. That's on me, I rarely do. They weren't bad or anything, I'm just not a fan of musicals which this in essence is.
I absolutely loved everything else though.
I'd say this is the least formulaic Disney has been in quite some time with its animated features. I know, I know, it looks like just about anything that comes out these days and reeks of 'WE HAVE A MESSAGE' storytelling, but it is the way they go about it that caught me by surprise and swept me along in the fantasy with great ease.
With no villain other than the world around the isolated village desperately trying to stay in touch with its roots, the thing that makes them special, it is not hard to draw parallels with the state of the world we now live in. I am typing this review from a country in lockdown, a forced isolation. And we have been in this situation for quite some time now. This of course has an effect on everyone, but anyone who ever says that this pandemic has no, or nearly any, effect on young people will get slapped by this 46 year old's hands repeatedly.
I see this strongest in my oldest daughter (14). This social vacuum at a time in her life she's supposed to find out a lot about what makes her who she is, is devastating. It casts a numbness that is painful to watch. We watched Encanto on New Year's Eve with my family and I saw my daughter perk up at Mirabel's defiance. The defiance of someone who is labeled an outsider because she is different. What I saw there was the connection any good story needs for its contents to make sense. That fact that I felt that by proxy of my daughter does not diminish its strength.
Encanto has a big, bright and colourful heart and has something to say about finding togetherness in isolation.
Which is something we should probably all be doing (in my case, best not done while singing).