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Review of the film I blush by Dmitry Barchenkov

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A new Pixar cartoon “Turning Red” has been released on the Disney + platform (not available in Russia, as it is now). In it, a growing girl turns into a red panda with strong emotions. Dmitry Barchenkov explains why even in the changed world Pixar is still the best. The studio has finally shifted its focus to female characters.

About two years ago, in an animation that had not yet faced a pandemic or the events of the last two weeks, an animation was released “Forward” – an uplifting road movie about two elven brothers. They searched for their missing father and found themselves along the way. It was hard to find fault with the cartoon: the animation was pleasing to the eye, the characters fell in love with each other in a second, and the plot mess they got into touched and united generations. In general, all, as usual, at the height, do not dig. Except for one thing: he, like many Pixar projects (see, for example, brilliant but masculine “Soul”), did not keep up with professional optics.

In this sense, his antithesis is “I’m blushing” – no less inspiring story, which not only reconciles mothers and daughters, but also breaks the conservative barriers, family stereotypes that prevent many children from accepting themselves.

13-year-old Mei Li is a Canadian of Chinese descent (as is the director of the cartoon Domi Shi; you’ve probably seen her short film Bao). Mae tries to integrate into a toxic school society, secretly draws fan fiction with a boy she likes and dreams of going to a concert of her favorite K-pop band. With all the strict house rules learned from his mother, the heiress of the ancient Chinese family, Mae tries to remain himself. But in addition to the altar, incense and traditions, the family rewarded Mae with something special: as an adult, she receives not the curse, not the gift – to become a giant red panda during hormonal releases.

Domi Shea is recognizedthat “I’m blushing” – a story about puberty, about the relationship with the body, mom and intergenerational trauma. Members of Lee’s family did not accept themselves for years: instead of finding the key or, if you like, the method of educating the inner self, they ran away from him, hid far away, kept locked up. Usually, to appease the magical transformation, the entire Lee family gathered and moved the cute inner beast to the locket, but it seems that in Mae’s case, things will not go according to plan.

Mae surrounds a cool girl community – her friends immediately help the heroine to control herself. In addition, the girl is integrated into modern pop culture, although the action is zero. For example, the fictional band 4 * Town appearing in the frame is a completely modern trend: externally natural BTS (although the director herself says that she focused on Big Bang and 2PM from the 2000s) sing tracks composed by the heroes of the buzzer generation – Billy Ailish and Finneas O’Connell. And the traditions are so far from Mae that she perceives her mother’s covenants exclusively as legends from the distant past.

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However, you shouldn’t look for age motives in “I’m blushing”, just as you shouldn’t compare it with another Disney novelty. Encanto, with which there are many similarities, formal but not actual. The cartoon about the matriarchal magic family also dealt with the generational trauma, but did not look in the direction of the female body and the aching opposition “daughter – mother”. While in “I’m blushing” this is the main motive: Mae’s mother stalkers her daughter sitting in the school classroom from behind a tree and, to the delight of her classmates, offers a pack of pads, which immediately awakens in her daughter the same inner self. Obviously, the red panda is a direct metaphor for puberty and menstruation. In another scene – authorsDomi Shee co-wrote the screenplay with writer Julia Cho. unequivocally show that the root of the troubles is the rejection of his “femininity” on the maternal line in the genus Lee (and Mae’s mother – in the first place).

As in the case of any Pixar animation, at the end you need to agree on what is called quality standards. “I’m blushing” is relevant, abounds in excellent Asian references, and also offers a clear (especially for girls!) Tale about fighting the fears of adulthood and allows you to truly immerse yourself and your own problems. Perhaps this is especially important in the current period, when the public, whether we like it or not, prevails over the individual.

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