Cannes 2015: Inside Out Review - Pixar's Back With Another Masterpiece

A film about the head that aims for the heart.

Rating: ˜…˜…˜…˜…˜… The last time Pixar were in Cannes was with Up. Then they were riding high on the one-two masterpiece success of Ratatouille and Wall-E and wound up delivering a film with a simple vision and ambitious emotional through-line that left everyone shaken, stirred, but ultimately uplifted. It looked to be a statement of intent going forward for the House that Woody built, yet since then the studio's been stuck on a spiral of sequels and otherwise less inspired films, culminating in 2014 being the first calendar year in almost a decade that the studio couldn't make a release. They've still only produced one outright bad movie (Cars 2), but it felt like the pioneers of computer animation had lapsed under studio demands (they were bought outright by Disney in 2006) and a potentially decreasing abundance of imagination. Well, all that fear, anger and disgust can be dispelled (or, perhaps more accurately, tempered); Inside Out, the studio's return to the Croisette, is a funny, smart, inventive and oh so emotional film that rubs shoulders with the top tier of Pixar's catalogue. If anything, that's something of a surprise; while it was always destined to be a good film - Up and Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter is calling the shots, for one - nobody would have pegged it to be quite this great. Oh, it's not quite as perfect as Up, but that is the greatest animated film ever made after all. And it's not the case that it just lives in the shadow of Docter's previous either; Inside Out is a strong, independent film that shirks away from convention.

The central concept is one of the most metaphysical for a mainstream cartoon - the emotions of eleven year old Riley are controlled by avatars for Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger. This is the sort of simple-yet-genius wheel-spinning that made Pixar's name back with toys coming to life and monsters under the bed having their own meticulously constructed society, and that same unfaltering scope leads to a story that manages to encapsulate all elements of the subconscious into a logical, but importantly still fun, whole - there's a literal train of thought, dreams have their own movie production studio and the reason you can never fully forget catchy ad jingle is finally explained. Fittingly for a film whose heroes are literalised emotions, Inside Out is Pixar's most instinctively touching feature. There's more scenes that will have grown men complaining about getting things in their eyes than any other outing, and yet not one feels like manipulation or a superfluous inclusion. Your eyes will be watering at the most bizarre of images and it's all perfectly normal. The key is relatability. This is an internal coming of age tale with a universal eventual truth and the script does a brilliant job of getting the audience to a similar emotive state of its central heroes (who are, in an understated choice, mostly female) to make it hit home. This is a tricky task given their age - Riley's a pre-teen and her five emotions have a similar level of maturity - but even though adults will have come to terms with the film's emotive realisation in their own lives, a clever bit of tricksy avoidance in the intro ensures the eventual conclusion is as surprising as it is cathartic.


Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.