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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Painting is a French animated adventure dubbed into English. Following the three classes of people depicted in an unfinished painting -- the completely colored "Alldunns," the somewhat done "Halfies," and the charcoal "Sketchies" -- the movie deals with mature themes like discrimination, tyranny, and forbidden love. A young couple kisses and embraces a few times, and the Alldunns treat both the Sketchies and the Halfies inhumanely -- forcing them to their bidding and even stomping/killing Sketchies. The movie should spark some questions about prejudice and how to overcome it.
What's the story?
THE PAINTING follows characters who exist in an artist's unfinished canvas. There are three classes of people: the completely done "Allduns" consider themselves superior to everyone else and live in a vibrantly colored castle; the partially finished "Halfies" were almost done before the artist abandoned the work, but even a missing brushstroke renders them perceived as inferior; and the poor "Sketchies" are barely more than charcoal line drawings. Ramo, an Alldun, is in love with Claire, a Halfie. Led by their ruthless leader, the Allduns plan to enslave the Sketchies and push the Halfies out, so that they -- the artist's only fully realized creations -- can rule over more space. Unwilling to accept the status quo, Ramo, along with Claire's Halfie friend Lola and a brave Sketchie named Quill, go on a quest to search for the missing artist.
Is it any good?
With The Painting, French director Jean-François Laguionie has created a simple but beautiful allegory that older kids will appreciate for its substance and style. Very young kids may not understand the movie's more mature themes and subject matter, but the entire family can use The Painting as a way to discuss how easy it is for people to discriminate -- and how sometimes all it takes is one or two brave people to stand up to prejudice.
Ramo and Claire's Romeo and Juliet-esque love story seems doomed at the beginning, but it's actually full of hope and possibility. When Ramo sweetly tells Claire how colorful her (unfinished) face looks to him, it's one of the most romantic moments in any movie in recent memory. His love for Claire propels Ramo to look for the painting's artist -- the only person who can end the Allduns' circle of oppression. Along the way, Ramo, Quill, and Lola meet characters from the artist's other paintings and discover that they'll have to make life better for themselves. The action isn't as fast-paced as most American animated movies, so this is a film best watched with older kids who will appreciate it. An English-dubbed version is available, but if your kids are old enough to read, you might want to check out the original (Le Tableau) with English subtitles.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Painting's messages about discrimination. Parents may want to discuss historical (and contemporary) examples of oppression.
Claire and Ramo are typical examples of star-crossed lovers. Why is forbidden love such an enduring theme in movies? Can you name other star-crossed lovers from movies and books?
Why do you think Lola wasn't as satisfied as the other characters with being able to finish yourself? What are the parallels to being able to reinvent yourself?
How does this film compare to more mainstream American animated movies you've seen?
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