Window Horses challenges all the preconceptions
Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo
Opens April 14
Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming was, for my money, last year’s best Canadian film. Narrative daring and a originality pay off at an intellectual and emotional level. This superb animated drama proves you don’t need millions of dollars or Pixar-like precision.
Not bad for stick figures.
The aforementioned Rosie (Sandra Oh, Gray’s Anatomy) is a young writer with little life experience who gets the surprise of a lifetime when she is invited to a poetry festival in Shiraz, Iran. It’s not entirely out of the blue: Rosie is of Persian and Chinese descent, and is curious about her absent father’s land. The culture shock is considerable, but more so is the discovery of how little she knows about her craft, or her dad for that matter.
An already captivating plot is further improved by incorporating traditional Iranian poetry and bits of history that reveal how Iranian society is closer to the Western world than expected: it acknowledges its problems, but doesn’t demonize the entire country.
Window Horses is too earnest to pass for experimental, but it comes close. The film’s looks are deceptively simple and enable the participation of guest animators for the most lyrical sequences. There isn’t a weak link in this chain: Sandra Oh’s voice acting is on point, Don McKellar as a conceited German poet is a hoot, and the narrative builds up to a three-handkerchief climax.
Beyond the many topics Window Horses touches on, the overarching theme is the need to get out of your comfort zone in to grow. The judgmental and somewhat bratty Rosie changes for the better when immersed in a different culture. Such a simple lesson so many refuse to learn. ❧