The National: film review Magical Girl
Magical girl, or “majokko” in Japanese, is an anime subgenre, known for pretty, pink cartoon heroines who cast spells. But mirroring the way manga’s deceptively childlike packaging often disguises disturbingly adult themes, this knotty Spanish drama reveals itself to be much darker than its initial set-up suggests.
Alicia is 12-year-old girl terminally ill with leukaemia, and her doting unemployed father Luis would do anything to make her happy. So when he skims her diary and finds her one wish – a manga-inspired designer dress costing €7,000 (Dh33,000) – he does everything in his power to get it.
In a parallel story, Barbara is a mentally unstable woman living in something resembling house arrest with her husband/doctor. When she crosses paths with Luis, it sets off an increasingly twisted chain of events which results in bloodshed, blackmail and many more unmentionable revelations of the kind that appear to exist only in arthouse cinemas. The second movie from Carlos Vermut, the talent behind cult hit Diamond Flash, Magical Girl has already scored big, winning both the Golden and Silver Shells at San Sebastián, home wins for the film and director respectively.
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