The Breadwinner (2017)
We open with Parvana (voiced by Saara Chaudry), an 11-year-old girl, who is sitting on the walkway with her father (Ali Badshah) as he attempts to sell a pretty outfit of Parvana’s that she has never worn. We can tell from Parvana’s worried face that times are tough for her family. She notices that several men from the Taliban are harassing a shop owner. Parvana keeps grabbing her headdress and pulls it across to hide her face. Her father she’s that she is worried and uncomfortable, so he decides to distract her by telling her a story about the origins of the country she lives in, giving her a vibrant and colorful tale of her proud people. It’s region that has seen many battles and many rulers. Her father tells Parvana that when he was young, this country knew peace but soon war broke out again. Parvana is asked to tell a story by her father, and as she starts to narrate, a dog comes over and interrupts her. She yells at the dog and at that moment, several members of the Taliban come over and chastise the father for letting his daughter yell out in the open, bringing attention to herself. The father pleads for understanding but the Taliban, especially a teenage boy, refuse to listen. The father is forced to stand, and even when the father tells the young man that the father was his teacher years ago, the teenage boy is still mad, refusing to listen. We see that Parvana’s father is missing a leg, which he explains to the Taliban that he lost it in the war. The teenage boy inquires on how old Parvana is because he will be looking for a wife soon, but the father explains that she is already promised to another man. The teenager is dragged away by a bigger man when he gets very angry with Parvana’s father because he starts defending her. Father decides it’s time to go home and try to sell the garment tomorrow.
On their walk home, Parvana asks if she is getting married. Her father laughs and says she is too young; she should be playing and telling stories. Parvana tells her father, she is too old to tell stories and walks off. The teenage boy from the Taliban has overheard the conversation, hiding in a doorway to spy on Parvana and her father. They arrive home, and Parvana’s mother, Fattema (Laara Sadiq) prepares a meal for Parvana, her big sister Soraya (Shaista Latin) and their much younger brother. The two sisters fight about chores. Just then the Taliban burst into the house, led by the teenager that we met earlier. They arrest Parvana’s father for teaching his daughters and lying about his daughter’s betrothal. The Taliban drives off to take the father to prison as his family is left in tears. Parvana is going to have to grow up quickly if she and her family are going to survive in this male-dominated world of strict religious beliefs.
The Breadwinner is a tale of two stories: one is the story of Parvana and the plight of her family, the second story is the tale that Parvana tells her brother of a boy who is trying to get back the spring harvest seeds that were stolen from his village by magical beasts. This animated film is full of lush and vibrant colors, with the story Parvana tells her brother full of mosaic-like frames. The animation of Parvana’s journey is more realistic and at times is stunning in its composition, even the bleakness of the town and especially the room that the family lives in are full of life and color.
Director Nora Twomey gives us a story that is a little grim and at times scary. This is a harsh world that Parvana and her family live in, with the Taliban constantly being run from or confronted with. Due to their religious beliefs, once Parvana’s father is imprisoned, life becomes almost unbearable for the family. Without a male in their life, the women are not allowed to shop or gather water, since they are not accompanied by a husband or brother per the rules of the Taliban. This is why Parvana chooses to look and act like a boy. Evil has come to Parvana’s town in the shape of the Taliban and even worse, in the form of a teenage Taliban leader that seems to delight in causing Parvana and her family pain.
The Breadwinner is captivating and delightful, though it is at times heartbreaking as Parvana is given obstacle after obstacle that she finds ways to overcome. While dealing with a tough subject, it’s a film that families, especially young girls should see, a film about the determination of a girl who won’t stop to protect and feed the family that she desperately loves. It’s a rough and scary world that Parvana lives in but due to her courage and her families love, Parvana perseveres against all the odds. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
The Breadwinner is playing exclusively in Atlanta at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema
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