Rated: PG for some thematic elements and peril. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: January 20, 2017 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
A sublime, touching animated feature, a French co-production with Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away), is basically dialogue-free (except for the occasional "Hey!") and more than a metaphorical, mystical tale of survival.
The Red Turtle comes under the radar after making a splash at many film festivals last year and is straightforward in terms of story but abstract to a degree in how it unfolds (which will test the patience of younger onlookers, probably not the ideal demographic) and morphs like the eponymous character. Without the use of CGI the hand-drawn approach overseen by helmer Michael Dudok de Wit works wonders in a muted way with a dream-like feel especially in nocturnal sequences.
An unnamed castaway on a tropical island with birds, crabs, and turtles goes through much change in his life when new companions inhabit his precarious milieu after being thwarted in his raft egress by an unknown force, at first. Dudok de Wit has a way in balancing the austere and serenity when it comes to the imagery that enhances the storytelling, albeit too unrushed and unfussy for some, into something of a visual marvel. Which hopefully will be embraced for what really comes out of its shell, if not theatrically, then in ancillary returns.