“Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms” is a truly poignant tale with themes of motherhood, love, and adversity. Its wonderful animation combined with its brilliant visual storytelling helps make this film one of the best movies to come out in 2018.
The fantasy film’s premise revolves around the relationship between a Maquia, a member of the seemingly ageless Iolph people, and Ariel, a little human baby who she finds alone after a dramatic turn of events in the beginning of the film. Faced with the thankless task of raising a child alone, Maquia spends much of the film struggling to ensure that Ariel has the best life possible. This is made complicated by the fact that Ariel is a human and grows up faster than the long-living Maquia. There are a fair share of action sequences, but “Maquia” is really an exploration into what it means to enter motherhood.
Thanks to fantastic character development and well-written dialogue, “Maquia” excels when it comes to developing the relationship between Maquia and her adopted son. As we watch Ariel grow up, viewers will empathize with the concerns that Maquia has. Many parents are aware of the pain of having to eventually let go of one’s children and let them go free, and this movie excellently portrays this common problem in a way that is understandable even to those who are without children.
An example of fantastic characterization would be Maquia constantly wishing for Ariel to never grow up, hoping that he will always be her little boy. Although seemingly minor, Maquia’s desires make her a stronger character and far more relatable. While parenthood can be tough, it is oftentimes harder to see your child grow up too fast. The writers behind this movie understand the themes they are working with, and the story’s quality improves as a result.
Both Maquia and Ariel undergo character development as their relationship matures. Maquia’s experience raising Ariel begins to help her break away from her fears, while Ariel’s upbringing helps prepare him for the responsibilities of adulthood. It’s a natural progression that is convincingly portrayed on screen.
Animation-wise, “Maquia” has fantastic production values. Although the CGI can look out of place at times, the overall quality of animation cannot be understated. Movement is fluid and emotions are fully realized on the faces of the characters present in the story.
However, the movie is not without flaws. I must concede that there were several moments where the plot shifts gears without sufficient explanation, making it occasionally tough to piece the story together. Its disjointed plotline typically works in “Maquia”’s favour, but when it doesn’t, it leaves viewers a little confused.
Another concern is the fact that there were a select few characters that had a sizable amount of screentime, but very little development or characterization. This problem, while minor in the case of this movie, results in some of the cast feeling less like characters and more like plot devices. It’s understandable that a movie that has a runtime of just under two hours suffers from this issue, but it is still disappointing nonetheless.
But the aforementioned flaws are minor in the grand scheme of things. “Maquia” is an emotional film that makes the audience reflect long after they leave the theater. I disagree with the notion that it’s the “Your Name” or “A Silent Voice” of 2018, as it is fundamentally a different kind of film from those two. It’s an admirable and amazing film in its own right. Be ready to laugh and cry throughout the film as you experience the ups and downs of motherhood in “Maquia.”