“He pulled a loooong face… and Mother didn’t like it” – Coraline (2009)

Written by Yara

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Excuse-me, do you have a moment to talk about the word of my master and guru, Neil Gaiman? Here I am again to talk about yet another animated movie… in stop motion… with some dark elements to it. Am I the only one sensing a pattern here?

Coraline is the movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s homonymous novel, it tells the story of a young girl that has just moved to a new home in a new city. Coraline is extremely unsatisfied with all these changes, the weather is terrible, the neighbors are inconvenient and her parents don’t pay much attention to her. Later one night, the girl opens a little door in the living room  (in the best “Narnia” style) and finds a new parallel world on the other side where her every wish comes true, the neighbors are interesting and her Other Mother and Father have (button) eyes just for her. With such amazing possibilities, how can anything go wrong? Right?

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Neil Gaiman is my guru, currently he is my favorite contemporary author, his versatility astounds me, he can write about any theme to any target audience, a very prolific author, I truly admire his work. However, it took me a while to watch Coraline; my biggest fear was that the movie was going to miss the playful, yet dark, yet childish, yet serious tone of this amazing narrative. Coraline is a children’s book, yes, but different from other authors, Gaiman doesn’t underestimate his audience and is able to create a rather serious and dark plot while still keeping a light and lively atmosphere of fantasy. Would the producers, director and screenwriters be able to preserve this? I’m happy to say that the answer is “Yes!”

The first aspect I would like to highlight is the soundtrack. Composed of delicate chords and suave vocals, the first song that plays during the introductory scene was made to fully capture the attention of the audience; you see the images but your head is floating in another direction and, trust me, this is a good thing. The songs are essential to really set the mood throughout the movie.

The voice acting is also another topic that deserves mention; all the actors did a fantastic job in their performances, the lowest of sounds is always on point and the voices really matched the characters. I was also ecstatic with the animation style; as I said in my Mary & Max review, I love stop-motion, and this animation has the personality and uniqueness that a character like Coraline, in all her quirkiness, quick mind and insolence, deserves.

Overall, Coraline works really well both as an adaptation and as movie; the sharp contrast between both worlds is acquired not only through the actions of the characters, but also through colour, music, brightness and atmosphere. The suspense was properly dosed and the “scarier” bits are as delightful as the warm and musical scenes. Something that really made me happy about this movie was the fact that, even though Neil Gaiman is the writer and had nothing to do with the technical aspects of the film, this piece was able to capture the essence of the book in the same way (I believe) Gaiman intended.

Coraline is a delicious trip that will make you feel the need to sink yourself in this fantastic and eccentric world.

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