de Peter Sohn
American animated film, 1 h 42
Pixar has always liked to endow inanimate but vivid objects in the imagination with feelings: toys in Toy Story (1995), cars in Cars (2006), robots in Wall-E (2008). The animation film studio, a Disney subsidiary since 2006, even went so far as to stage the emotions of a little girl in the brilliant Vice Versa (2015). The latest in-house production uses the same recipe, changing the ingredients: the characters here are natural elements.
In Element City, a cosmopolitan American-style metropolis, the Aerians, anthropomorphic clouds, the Earthlings, plants on legs, the Aquatics, columns of water with a human silhouette, and the Flamboyants, will-o’-the-wisps living on the margins of society rub shoulders. for reasons due to their very essence.
It was in Firetown, a suburb inhabited by this community from distant lands, that Flam, as lively as the fire that animates it, grew up in the hope of one day taking over the neighborhood grocery store held at arm’s length by its father. But the house is as worn and tired as its manager. It is even threatened with closure after the unexpected visit of an (aquatic) agent from the city, Flack, an emotional young man but a tad weak-willed.
Determined not to see her life’s work go up in smoke, Flam pulls out all the stops to save the small family shop and persuades Flack to help her. Each will discover, during this enterprise, the hidden talents and virtues of the other, gradually getting rid of their prejudices.
Because it is a question in this modernized rereading of Romeo and Juliet to evoke the intercommunity mistrust, even the xenophobia, which prevails in the United States and elsewhere. The theme, already tackled even more frontally in Zootopia (2016), an excellent Disney animated film released in the middle of the American presidential campaign, is here softened by the budding idyll between two beings that everything separates.
This romantic comedy is closely linked to the personal story of Peter Sohn, that of his parents, Korean immigrants, and that of his union with an Italian-American illustrator. He says a lot about himself through the character of Flam, who tries to understand his identity and accept another, despite family pressure and culture shock.
However sympathetic it is, Elementary is however not the fireworks of original ideas and visual discoveries to which Pixar has accustomed us. And its unsightly aesthetic with fluorescent tones certainly does not help!