Nimona draws up plans in front of the murder wall in Ballister’s secret hideout. Despite challenges with production and COVID-19, “Nimona” made its way to the screen June 23. Photo courtesy of Netflix
Content Warning: This story mentions the topic of suicide.
Transparency item: A review provides an informed and opinionated critique. These informed critiques are published to make a recommendation to readers. This review is the opinion of the writer. Spoilers for “Nimona” are mentioned in this article.
Pink, wild and totally metal, “Nimona” defies all odds and expectations from its development to its exploration of diverse themes.
Released June 23, the film takes place in a futuristic medieval city, where a shapeshifting teen, Nimona, teams up with Ballister, a knight falsely accused of murdering the queen.
In addition, there were rumors that Disney was concerned about the LGBTQ+ themes in “Nimona.” They canceled the film when shutting down Blue Sky Studios, due to “current economic realities,” according to Collider.
Despite the studio’s hardships during COVID-19, the remaining creative team fought hard to bring “Nimona” to the screens.
“For us, it was finding authenticity in the character,” Director Nick Bruno said in an interview with JoBlo. “The most important thing for us was thinking about who Nimona is and doing that in a big, emotional way.”
At first glance, the pink, spiky-haired teen seems chaotic and somewhat violent. But deep down, Nimona craves understanding and friendship. She wants others to accept her for who she is and nothing less.
“But the Queerness in ‘Nimona’ runs deeper than its spunky central character — it explores the idea of chosen family, same-sex romance, and how powerful institutions perceive Queerness as ‘other’ and therefore a threat to normalcy,” according to Daily Beast’s Obsessed.
Ambrosius, Ballister’s boyfriend, similarly struggles with the idea of what is a threat to normalcy. His duty to capture Ballister, a societal outcast, conflicts with the love Ambrosius still holds for him.
“Ambrosius is such a great representation of this idea of being stuck between this sense of what you’re being told is right versus what you know is right,” said Eugene Lee Yang, who voiced Ambrosius, in an interview with Collider.
Additionally, Nimona does not shy away from addressing the topic of challenging authority and tradition.
The city revolves around the reverence of Gloreth, a beloved historical figure who once slayed a terrible monster that threatened the people.
However, the true telling of the event is later revealed in a flashback as a smaller incident that became largely dramatized. The modern city’s ancient opposition to the stranger festered into an entire society built upon hate.
“Something that’s very human in a lot of ways [is] to focus on the thing that’s gonna be easier for us to be afraid of — or hate,” said Stevenson in the same interview with Daily Beast’s Obsessed. “But this story asks you to question why it is so easy to point at the most visible thing and be like, ‘That is the bad thing.’”
Halfway through the film, Nimona confesses her true, vulnerable feelings about living within society: “I don’t know what’s scarier — the fact that everyone in this kingdom wants to run a sword through my heart or that, sometimes, I just want to let them.”
By the final act, Nimona nearly follows through with the latter part of her confession. In an interview with film critic Jackson Murphy, director Troy Quane explained how they wanted to tackle such a serious subject.
“There’s no script for life,” Quane said. “We can be angry and rage-filled and frustrated, but that doesn’t mean we’re not kind, compassionate and caring people. We have all of these colliding things that exist in all of us. It’s that ability to see that, look past that and see the person that’s beyond that.”
The team’s intentional execution about life worth living is evident when Nimona’s attempt is halted and Ballister comes to her aid just in time.
“I’m sorry,” Ballister says. “I see you, Nimona. And you’re not alone.”
The whole kingdom watches as Ballister and Nimona embrace. Society’s two outcasts are not the monsters people think they are but humans just like everyone else.
“This idea that if you can just recognize that someone is different or struggling or just wants to have the validation of someone saying, ‘I care about what you’re going through,” Yang said in the same Collider interview. “‘I care about who you are,’ that is the bottom line.”
“Nimona” is not only a comfort for those who have experienced being an outsider but also a creative visual, spreading the important message of challenging beliefs and tradition while learning to love and accept others despite differences.
“Nimona” is available for streaming exclusively on Netflix.
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