GUEST: ‘Vivo’ molds the viewers minds through beautiful visuals and music

Angel Jones, Guest Contributor

Our Guest film reviews are a collaboration with Billy Kaskay’s Ethics and Culture in Film elective.

Music has been known to be a second language, a language that connects us all. Through music, one can share their hopes, experiences, fears and everything in between. “Vivo” is an American musical comedy that does just that. Directed by Kirk Demicco, this 96 minute film was released in 2021 has music at its heart, in its mind, in the backbone of the story. Music is the medium for the theme, which is about the power of moving on and how love helps. The theme, while deep, was treated on a light level for most of the film.

Vivo, a kinkajou that lives in Havana Cuba with his friend, Andrés Hernandez, has to deliver a song he wrote to world famous singer, Marta Sandoval, in Florida. Unable to do it on his own, he enlists the help of Andrés’ niece, Gabriela “Gabi” Hernandez, to deliver it with him. However, methodical, plan-based Vivo and wild, eccentric Gabi naturally clash, bringing misadventure and fun along the way. Unfortunately, they also have to deal with opposition. The theme of moving on is best displayed through the powerful soundtrack, which is all about the response to an unexpected situation. The beauty of love is shown through character’s dialougue and actions throughout the film. Finally, hope is a subtle undertone, shown through the breaking of light in each scene where it is portrayed.

While “Vivo” had a good foundation at the beginning to explain loss, the movie got sidetracked with other stories that did not line up with the main theme during the middle, such as the side story about bird DanCarino’s unsuccessful love life. Then, the movie wrapped up with an emotional and powerful finish, obviously with a song. The visuals during the middle, an example being Vivo’s first encounter with a python named Lutador, was simple and consistent, only doing close ups compared to both the beginning and end of the film, which were varied with the intent of suspense and enjoyment. While the theme was understandable, it was hard to follow due to some plotlines and characters – like Gabi’s scout troop, the Sand Dollars – being unnecessary in the way they were presented.

“Vivo” is a movie that comes through with the soundtrack, but not so well with the narrative. While this movie has potential, in order to resonate with the viewers, especially those who lost a loved one, changes have to be made to maintain the same deep level that was shown in the beginning and end. “Vivo” is full of life and color, and overall the film will make you tap your feet, laugh and cry simultaneously. Vivo and friends go on the adventure of a lifetime that will impact their, and the viewer’s, mindset about change forever. ★★★★☆