By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Playing at Fantasia Digital Film Festival 2020 On Demand till Sept 2. Buy your virtual ticket here.
North American Premiere
A Costume For Nicholas is a wild and fancy free animation for all to enjoy. It’s not only a delightful and heartfelt adaptation of the children’s book Pablo y El Baúl by Jaime Mijares but also no prior knowledge is needed! The titular protagonist has Down’s syndrome. He lost his mother just minutes into the film (it’s easy to surmise because his grandparents take him in). Thankfully, adapting to life in an unfamiliar environment is hardly difficult at all.
David is his cousin, older by a couple of years, and though the two initially struggle to get along, it will take a magical adventure to see them bond. The tween has nightmares and they manifest strongly enough for Nick to see and he offers to help. However, before he involves David, he chases after the beast by himself and finds himself in another world via an old clothes trunk. Thankfully, the dangers he faces alone are not as dangerous as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
As long as Nicolas believes in the fantasy, that’s all we need to know than question. When he wears a costume made by his grandma (pirate, spaceman, a dragon or whatever), he feels empowered and also gains their ability. He can take on anything! Even without, we see how this boy easily friends because they see past his genetic difference. He’s as normal as they are and it’s a feel-good film to show how we can all embrace difference.
We also learn how nightmares are not something to shudder way. Instead, what this film infers is that they are part of a greater problem David needs to figure out. He misses his dad. I surmise he’s an airline pilot (he plays with a paper airplane a lot) so he doesn’t get to see him often. They manifest into odd beasts in his dreams, and how he learns to accept is interesting. When Nick is there to help, together, they can take on anything!
5 Stars out of 5