Saturday, 9 January 2016
I missed this in the cinema when it came around but was glad to buy it on disc. This film is a gift. I wish I had seen it as I entered my teens - but even then I probably wouldn't have got it! The concept and the way in which it is realised are both highly creative. The idea that there are personified emotions competing within our heads for control of our feelings and how we express ourselves is a stroke of genius. I think that this film could only work well as an animation - the medium enhances the message so well.
The main emotions are (as above) fear (Bill Hader), disgust (Mindy Kaling), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), joy (Amy Poehler) and anger (Lewis Black). The personification of these emotions is very well done and I'm sure viewers will have no difficulty in recognising them from their own experience. The roles they respectively have and what happens to their host and central character Riley (Kaitlyn Dias), is illuminating and portrayed in a very humorous and entertaining way. It is good that joy is meant to be the predominant emotion.
There are many well thought through psychological and neuropsychological concepts in the film. Without giving anything of the story away, Riley's memories are stored in colored orbs, which are sent into long-term memory each night. Riley's most important memories are known as 'core memories' and are housed in a hub in Headquarters. These power five "islands", each of which reflects a different aspect of Riley's personality. The way in which these islands interact with one another and give expression to Riley's relationships is very instructional. I found it interesting that there was no spiritual dimension to any of the islands or experiences that Riley encountered.
This film is a gift for school and youth group settings but will need careful preparation and handling if the harvest on offer is to be gleaned well. The invitation for youngsters (and the not so young) to expand their self-understanding is a generous one. The better we understand ourselves the better we can understand and thereby accept others.
The animation is simply wonderful - so fluid and dynamic, capturing body movements and facial expressions in such faithful detail. I particularly liked the scenes where joy was ice skating. At 91 minutes long it is just about right - but I felt that joy and sadness's journey could have been trimmed by five minutes. If you have not already seen this - please get hold of it and watch it. Reflect on what it shows you and how you see your own behaviour and emotions in the light of it. This is excellent and I have no trouble in awarding it 9/10!