The animation genre is unjustifiably categorised too often as being exclusively for children and incapable of portraying serious and thought-provoking topics. But this couldn’t be further from the truth with the numerous brilliant animated films released over the years, and the latest to oppose this idea is Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee.
Nominated for Best Animated Film, Best Documentary and Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming Academy Awards (the first film to ever be nominated for all three) alongside numerous other accolades, Flee is taking the world by storm. And no wonder why, it is bloody good!
This animated docudrama follows Amin Nawabi as he juggles marrying his long time boyfriend and his hidden past, fleeing his home country of Afghanistan as a refugee. Detailing his struggles in heartbreaking detail, Flee never lets up with its eye-opening depiction of what life as a refugee is really like.
Despite an art style that many would consider simplistic, the voice performances, audio and imagery successfully portray not just the intensity and anxiety of Amin’s situation, but the beautifully intimate moments of his life. You grow attached to these animated faces over Flee’s 90-minute run-time meeting a range of diverse characters both in terms of demeanour and appearance. The documentary is never lessened by its animated format, but rather, elevated to whole new levels making it very special, avoiding the risk of coming across as fiction. Interweaving real-world imagery to further reinforce the real story behind this film, Flee never loses sight of what it is.
While the majority of the film shows Amin’s struggles as a refugee leaving Afghanistan and arriving in Denmark, it also acts as a heart-warming depiction of a gay man learning to love himself and his sexuality. It is an aspect of this film that was not expected but much welcome, especially when it feels like animated films are behind the already inadequate representation of the LGBTQ+ of live-action films. Jumping between a young Amin’s heartbreaking struggles to understand and accept his sexuality and a proud gay man ready to marry the man he loves. This transition is perfectly done throughout the film, but most of all in one of the most wholesome scenes I’ve seen on screen in a while.
But sadly it isn’t all joy as Amin’s refugee makes for a hard to watch, but necessary, viewing that will keep you thinking for a long while afterwards. Flee is a must-watch for anyone wanting to educate themselves and experience one of the most important films put to screen.