Turning red, a phrase that depicts the classic flush of embarrassment, a slight pinkening of one’s cheeks, or, in the case of Meilin Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang), the action of turning into a giant, fluffy, red, panda.
Turning Red, this year’s hit Pixar film, is endearingly adorable whilst also possessing the ability to discuss serious issues within families. Meilin is unlike many quirky teen stars that usually grace the big screen. She is wholly and entirely herself. She has no shame concerning her identity. According to her; “Ever since [she] turned thirteen, [she’s] been doing [her] own thing. Making [her] own moves, twenty-four-seven, three-sixty-five”. She will never balk at doing, wearing, or saying whatever she wants. Furthermore, she, “will not hesitate to do a spontaneous cartwheel if [she] feel[s] so moved”.
Nothing can curb her bubbly personality. Nothing, except, maybe the expectations of her parents. She tries her hardest to be perfect for them. She gets straight A’s, is near fluent in French, as well as adept in playing the flute. She’s the leader of global warming protests, and is always sure to help her mom, also known as Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh), in the upkeep of their family business.
And, unfortunately, with all the good that she does to complete the picture of a perfect daughter she must additionally hide all the seemingly indecorous parts of herself. Including boy crushes, boy bands, and other things that, although, young girls are typically teased or shamed for, are not altogether bad.
She does good with this balancing act for a long time until, eventually, after a rather steamy sketch of a cute boy is discovered by her rigid mother, the image Meilin creates of herself as the perfect daughter, starts to unravel.
From there the movie continues to be endearingly sweet, funny, and at times heartbreakingly emotional. It shined a naked light on familial expectations and how they can warp our own self image.
It’s a story of self discovery, of friendship, of acceptance. But, altogether, it is absolutely a must watch film.