Parents' Guide to

Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming

By Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 7+

Canadian girl travels to Iran in animated dramedy.

Movie NR 2017 85 minutes
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It has flashes of uniqueness and even wonder, but this animated dramedy can't sustain them over the rather flimsy framework of its self-discovery plot. Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming starts wonderfully, introducing us to an intelligent, artistically inclined young girl who wants to be a poet. The film captures Rosie's mix of enthusiasm and reserve but also props her up with traits that seem more calculated than organic (Exhibit A: Her unexplored, obsessive love of France). The movie's visual world is composed of several styles of animation to convey different artistic perspectives and points of view; the base style is made of simple line drawings, especially those depicting Rosie as a stick figure (the production company is "Stickgirl"). The mix is charming and occasionally quite beautiful. When she travels to Iran, the new sights, sounds, and artistic ideas are conveyed in a lovely fashion. But even that basic plot idea -- a new poet of no renown, with no following whatsoever, gets invited to an international festival -- makes you wonder from the start what's going on.

The film requires significant suspension of disbelief as convenient meetings keep happening. Yet the structure also requires Rosie to remain blithe about what should be the single most emotional, important journey of her life, considering what she knows and what we are to learn. Her poetry, too, is the kind of precocious navel gazing that makes her invitation feel all the more suspicious. Sure, she's being given somewhere to go, room to grow by the filmmakers, but it might help to start her at a more plausible point. And even those flashes of wonder are dulled by a middle section that feels more instructional than dramatic. The whole truth of Rosie's actual circumstance terribly undermines earlier warm scenes with her grandmother (Nancy Kwan) and grandfather (Eddie Ko), but the film almost completely ducks the awful emotional blowback that must occur. You can't help wishing that the characters she encounters were as interesting as Rosie herself was in the film's opening minutes -- including Aghdashloo as a wise poet; Canadian veteran Don McKellar as a haughty young German poet you wish was funnier; Elliot Page in a cameo as the best friend; others who exist to provide exposition. Even Rosie's personality seems to flatten out as the plot takes over. Despite some moments of beauty along Rosie's journey of self-discovery, Window Horses fails to take root.

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