‘The Breadwinner’ Review: A Young Girl Saves Her Family in this Animated Treat

In Taliban controlled Kabul, Afghanistan, a man is arrested for using forbidden books to teach his daughters. Unable to leave the house without a man, his wife and two daughters struggle to find food. His daughter Parvana decides to become the family’s breadwinner by cutting her hair, and heading out into the hostile city as a boy.

The Breadwinner is a remarkable film. The story of a desperate young girl struggling to keep her family safe is heartbreakingly sweet. Parvana herself, perfectly voiced by Saara Chaudry, is as plucky and tough as any Disney Princess. She cannot change the world she finds herself in, and must instead learn to survive it.

The film has surprising grit, and yet should still be seen by the whole family. The horrors inflicted upon the family are couched in such a way that a child would understand them, but no punches are pulled. It’s a frightening story and yet the most hopeful stories usually are.

Having co-directed the similarly stunning The Secret of Kells, Nora Twomey allows the film to be a visual spectacle and a fully grounded drama. Kabul is viscerally dangerous, with it’s adorable big-eyed characters trapped in a desolate city. The escape for the characters and the audience are the stunning fantasies. Parvana regales her family with stories that are animated in the distinct Cartoon Saloon style which in this instance recalls The Adventures of Prince Achmed. The movie allows these two worlds to immerse the viewer. The story offers insight into Parvana’s turmoil but also her unbroken childlike wonder.

It’s a film about storytelling. It’s about the strength of women and the triumph of small kindnesses. Parvana is a compelling hero who leads you through a dangerous yet hopeful story of family and survival.

5 / 5

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