★ ★ ★
“Window Horses” is an animated cultural comedy of errors from Asian-Canadian director Ann Marie Fleming.
Rosie Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh) is a twenty year-old half Chinese, half Iranian fast food worker and poet. Raised by her overprotective Chinese grandparents (voiced by Nancy Kwan and Eddy Ko) following her mother’s death and father’s disappearance, she has dreams of one day visiting France, but so far has never been outside Canada.
When her self-published book of poetry, “My Eye Full, Poems by a Person Who Has Never Been to France,” earns her an invitation a festival she’s thrilled, even if it will take her to Shiraz, Iran, not France. Upon arrival the beret wearing Francophile learns about the father she never met and, through poetry, learns the healing power of art and to embrace a culture she was connected to but knew nothing about.
Fleming uses a variety of animators and a who’s who of Canadian talent, like Ellen Page and Don McKellar, and Iranian film legends Peyman Moaadi and Shohreh Aghdashloo, to bring Rose’s journey to life. It’s a beautifully whimsical about curiosity, finding a voice and staying open.
The director’s avatar—a stick figure that has appeared in her other short animated films—represents Rosie. The character’s lack of expression is more than compensated for in Oh’s vivid vocal performance. Visually she’s a blank slate who grows throughout to become a fully rounded character.
“Window Horses” is a gentle, airy film that cuts through the complicated clutter of everyday life with a simple message of peace, love and understanding.