Artistically Restrained, But Impactful Animated Biopic

Charlotte is a moving animated biopic of the life of Charlotte Salomon, a young German-Jewish artist who met a tragic end. The animated film — from directors Tahir Rana and Eric Warin, who worked from a screenplay by Erik Rutherford and David Bezmozgis — takes on the conventions of a traditional biopic to depict Charlotte Salomon’s short life as she and her family attempt to survive the Nazis during World War II. Charlotte’s coming-of-age journey is marred by tragedy and uncertainty as the young woman tries to forge her own path as a brilliant artist. In the face of great political and social upheaval, everyday forms of bigotry and discrimination, and the promise of violence around every corner, Charlotte Salomon (voiced by Keira Knightley) rose against these difficulties to pursue her passion in art.

While the story is simple and to the point, the animated film takes on the burden of carrying the emotional heft. Charlotte’s paintings serve as central transitional pieces to the narrative, anchoring the story to the very real Charlotte’s emotional and mental state as she hid for her life and bravely pursued art. It is through the medium of animation that the biopic maintains a level of resonance and relevance. The artistic choice is a reflection of the care and consideration for Charlotte’s work as her paintings are seamlessly integrated into the modern art form. The story itself is harrowing and it is not for those who are deeply affected by depictions of prejudice, racism, bigotry and violence. There is a deep sadness that permeates the film and cannot be overstated, but there is a palpable embrace of hope and joy that emanates throughout as well. It’s a reflection of the light Salomon’s art and life left behind. There is no doubt that a live-action adaptation (probably starring Knightley) would have been deeply rooted in the dark and overwhelming despair of the story, but the animation creates a balance. In the post-credits epilogue featuring footage of Charlotte’s stepmother Paula (voiced by the late Helen McCrory) and her father Albert (voiced by Eddie Marsan), they are asked if Charlotte loved life. Paula, with a smile on her face, answers, Very much so. And she rediscovered it time and time again. This sentiment is very much felt in the film, most notably in the choice of coloring and animation style. Tahir Rana and Eric Warin undoubtedly respect and honor their subject with an animation style that closely, but not entirely, resembles that of Salomon’s own artwork.

There could have been a bit more of a closer likeness, but the limitation allows Charlotte’s work that is recreated in the film to stand out more. The film, however, is a bit too polished and restrained. It could have gone a bit more experimental like 2017’s Loving Vincent. Narratively, it is a bit too familiar and closely follows a formula that could have easily been broken. The story is enough to get the emotional core of the narrative to resonate with audiences, but the animation style is too tame and lacks texture. There is a lot to be desired in the overall presentation of the film.

It’s a new month! And you know what that means: It’s time to go through another round of some of the best movies on enormous catalog — from some classics to new offerings — to figure out what you’re watching this month in April.

These are all for the month of April 2022, and note that all of these movies are on Smartstream21 already, unless they are noted with an arrival date.

Also make sure to check out some other lists of ours to see other recommendations we have for shows and movies to watch and some streaming to play:

As the world’s biggest movie star, it’s hardly a shock to discover that fans have been spending their weekend watching movies featuring Dwayne Johnson, but it’s still impressive that his reach covers multiple platforms.

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