TL;DR – A beautiful look at what it means to be a family
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
One of the hallmarks of a lot of recent Disney and Pixar films has been the short films that run before the main attraction. These are little films that explore interesting topics, like exploring the love between volcanoes in Lava that ran before Moana (see review), or Lou a story of a lost and found box that comes alive that came before Cars 3 (see review) which was also nominated for an Oscar. Now while not all of these short films work, they are all really interesting, and today we are going to look at Bao, which was the starting show for Incredibles 2 (see review).
So to set the scene, one morning a woman is at home making bao, a steamed dumpling, for her and her husband, who has to run off to work. Lamenting being all alone, the woman is shocked when all of a sudden one of the bao becomes alive in her mouth. Spitting the crying bao into a bowl soon it grows legs and arms, and becomes a child for the woman. She takes the little bao with her as he grows, but as he grows up soon he moves away from her into a life of his own.
The first thing that is absolutely clear is just how beautiful the animation is in Bao. That moment when the nose pops out of the bao when he sneezes might be the most adorable thing I have ever seen animated in a film. I also liked how the world is very lifelike, but all the characters in it are animated in a very stylised way, it really draws you into the narrative, and the story between the bao and his mother. Add to this the gorgeous score that plays throughout the film created by Toby Chu. He is a composer that helped create one of my most treasured piece of cinematic music with Adagio for Tron, and here he majestically sets the tone for the short film with the score.
However, while all this is important the one thing that sets Bao apart from many like films is the story, but to get into that we have to spoil the ending, so if you don’t want that to happen, skip to the next paragraph. As the short film progresses we discover that what we are seeing is not real, but a projection of the mother’s loss for her son, who is a real boy and is still very much alive. There is that moment when it shifts from the surreal to the real in a moment, and that kind of tonal whiplash could be a real issue, but it is expertly handled by the writer/director Domee Shi. It closes with a look at a world that feels both raw but instantly relatable, the loss we have as our children grow up and move away. It is also coming from a cultural perspective that both adds something unique to the film and is a good example of why we need to have more films from diverse writers and directors.
In the end, do we recommend Bao? Yes, yes we do. Look there is a very real chance that you will likely see this because you are going to go see the Incredibles 2, and that’s good because you get two great films for the price of one. So while it might be tempting to arrive a bit later and skip this, can I please recommend that you do watch it because it is a beautiful short film and we need more beauty in the world at the moment.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Bao
Directed by – Domee Shi
Written by – Domee Shi
Music by – Toby Chu
Cinematography by – Ian Megibben
Starring – Sindy Lau & Daniel Kailin
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Germany: na; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: PG; United States: PG