Movie Review: The Breadwinner
Set against the backdrop of Afghanistan in 2001, The Breadwinner tells the tale of an 11 year old girl living under Taliban rule. Pavarana, the 2nd born daughter lives in meager surroundings where her father defining Taliban rule has taught her to read and write. She spends her days next to him in the market selling trinkets to survive. Her father a former teacher is trying to do as much as he can to preserve her childhood. When her father is arrested thru no fault of his own due to an arrogant Taliban fighter, she makes the sacrifice to cut her hair and dress as a boy so the family can eat. Its forbidden to women to be out in public without a male to escort them. With her brother still a toddler she starts wearing the clothing of her brother who died.
The Breadwinner still attempts to weave together her life with the stories her father told her. The animation style changes with her stories of a boy who has to face his fears. Pavarana learns she’s not the only girl posing as a boy to help their family survive. She does learn that not everyone is as happy at home as she is.
The Breadwinner is a tale of survival, but it only briefly topics on the harsh realities of a country before the more severe parts of war. They do focus on how women are devalued due to the changing culture. It’s a blink and you miss it opening that the religious patriarchal reign was not always the case. Pavarana’s older sister is used as a bribe of marriage to get them out of the city to a place where women have more freedom to even be out in public or at least be taught to read. Pavarana uses her ability to read and sells it in the marketplace. Her sales call of “Anything written, Anything read” wouldn’t be allowed if she were still a girl even with her father present.
The Breadwinner, based on Deborah Ellis’ bestselling novel, I decided to watch this with my daughter who read it for school. While I enjoyed it minus the lack of ending, she on the other was annoyed with how much of the story was changed. While animated, this film is still rated PG-13. Its themes lean it to more of an older child say 11+ who has the patience to sit thru a story that is not a happy tale.
Director: Nora Twomey
Release Date: November 17, 2017 (limited)
Run time: 94 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13