17th Aug2020

Fantasia 2020: ‘A Costume For Nicholas’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Features the voices of: Paty Cantú, Fran Fernandez, Cristina Hernandez, Ricardo Tejedo | Written by Miguel Uriegas | Directed by Eduardo Rivero

I do have quite a strong affinity with animated movies but it’s perhaps surprising that it doesn’t come from when I was a child. The only animated Disney film I remember liking was Robin Hood and I honestly don’t recall enjoy any other animated films until I was an adult. TV shows is another thing altogether though. I couldn’t get enough of Transformers, Thundercats, Dungeons and Dragons, Gummi Bears and many many more. But as an adult I have, like most people, enjoyed almost every Pixar movie and more importantly the work from Studio Ghibli. Spirited Away is one of my all time favourite movies and I love so many of their films. It is these films that A Costume For Nicholas most reminds me of.

The story itself is as wonderful and as outrageous as I hoped. A ten year old boy with Downs Syndrome – Nicholas – has a costume made for him every year by his mother. When his mother dies he goes to live with his loving grandparents and his cousin David who he shares a room with. He soon discovers that David has nightmares, something Nicholas has never suffered from. With his trunk of magical costumes he goes ahead to help his cousin with his nightmares and help the whole kingdom that lives inside his trunk. Yes it is as crazy as it sounds and it is all the better for it.

It seems like the filmmakers had a thousand ideas and they threw most of them into the film and I love that it has that kind of feel to it. It is probably set 75% in this imagination, dream-like world, rather than the ‘real-world’ setting (or is it all real? This not really the type of movie to worry about this kind of thing, just enjoy the ride). So we get tiny creatures that turn into huge monsters, infact there’s an array of interesting and original monsters throughout the film, we say bears and dragon, and perhaps the most Studio Ghibli-influenced element – the walking cabin. The world the director has created is phenomenal and up the in style and design of the very best Pixar and Studio Ghibli has to offer. It’s a world I would love to see more of. The brightness of the colours explodes from the screen more than any other film I remember before.

The filmmakers have to be given huge credit for showing a disability in such a fantastic way. It is something that we need to see more of in the movie industry.

Initially in Spanish, the version I viewed was in English and a some of the voice acting isn’t quite up to the standard of bigger budgeted animations. The story itself is almost (ALMOST) a bit too sickly sweet and cheesy. But it’s easy to forget this is a film that is aimed at children who probably wont feel the same way. Even with that, it is one of those children’s films that adult will get just as much enjoyment out of.

I can’t believe that anyone could watch A Costume For Nicholas and not have a smile on their face by the end of it. As soon as that last pop song plays over the final few moments I was grinning from ear to ear. There is a fantastic message here and it is shown in the most loving, beautiful and happy where possible. You’ll not see another movie like this one this year.

**** 4/5

A Costume For Nicholas screens as part of Fantasia 2020, which starts on August 20th.


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