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The Comedy of Errors

Film Review: Vivo

9 August 21 words: Katie Green

Lin-Manuel Miranda graces our ears with his musical genius once again in Netflix’s latest animated feature...

Director: Kirk DeMicco
Starring: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Zoe Saldana, Juan de Marcos
Running time: 99 minutes

Vivo (Lin-Manuel Miranda) the kinkajou spends every day performing alongside his owner and best friend, the talented Andreas Hernandez (Juan de Marcos González) in Cuba, and they never fail to impress their audiences. One day, Andreas receives a letter from the estranged love of his life, Marta Sandoval (Gloria Estefan) explaining how she wishes for him to come and see her perform for one night only in Miami.

Vivo is confused as to who Marta is and wishes for Andreas not to go. So, Vivo goes off in a strop but as he comes back the next morning, he is saddened to learn his beloved best friend has passed. At his funeral, Andreas’s great nephews’ wife and child Gabi are due to take him home, but Vivo does not wish to go. However, his mind changes when he discovers a song that Andreas wrote for Marta declaring his love for her, something he would never be able to tell her himself – so, Vivo makes it his mission to take this song to Marta, to show Andreas how he really felt. 

The whole world knows that Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of the world phenomenon musical Hamilton) has music coming out of his ears, so we wouldn’t have expected any less from a film starring himself. The music that features in this film is something I was very impressed by, as it was both catchy yet emotional in places as well. It’s a bright and bouncing film, but a bittersweet story of love that stretches over time, and this is reflected very well with the songs. 

For instance, you have Gabi’s first song My Own Drum, as she sings how she follows her own rules. This is the upbeat tempo the film brings, and the energy alongside it. Then, we have the penultimate song Inside Your Heart, which is sung by Marta. This is one of the sadder songs as Marta reminisces on her past times with her love Andreas, it is as if this is her way of saying goodbye (mind whilst I get some tissues to dab my tears away).

A tale of love that not only spreads over years but also different countries, and combines laughter with sadness along the way

Although we can’t see Miranda perform directly, he displays a great voice over for Vivo, providing both the comical and emotional side to the character. Of course, we can’t forget his glorious singing voice as well – something that never fails to impress us. 

A cast member that did shine through for someone of such a young age was the 13-year-old actress Ynairaly Simo, who voices Gabi and brings both youthful energy to the film and some great vocals to the character.

Vivo is a tale of love that not only spreads over years but also different countries, and combines laughter with sadness along the way. Without revealing too much, the ending turns from this bittersweet feeling to happiness right in its unexpected final moments. It’s a film that can be enjoyed by all ages with its bittersweet plot and, of course, its catchy soundtrack.

Did you know? This is one of several Miranda projects releasing in 2021, following the feature film adaptation of his musical In the Heights. The Pulitzer winner is set to compose music for Disney’s Encanto and make his directorial debut with Tick, Tick... Boom!, also for Netflix, later in the year.

Vivo is available on Netflix

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