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Float (Pixar/Disney+) - Review

Float

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

ONE of the great little discovers of roaming around Disney+ is the Pixar short Float.

Written and directed by Bobby Rubio, the short is the fourth film in Pixar’s ‘SparkShorts’ program, in which Pixar’s employees are merely given six months and limited budgets to develop animated short films that were released on Pixar’s YouTube channel, before being subsequently released on Disney+.

Float focuses on the relationship between a father and son, the latter of whom has autism.

The seven-minute feature begins as Dad (portrayed by Rubio himself) is playing with his new-born son, Alex (Eli Fucile), in the front yard of his house. While showing him a dandelion, Alex proceeds to float, which comes as a surprise to Dad.

His sense of wonder quickly turns to something more secretive as the watchful eyes of his neighbours begin to concern him. He promptly grabs Alex and takes him back inside the house, to keep him away from judging eyes.

Skipping forward, the next scenes show Alex as a toddler (now voiced by Luna Watson), as he continues floating all over the darkened house. But while he is filled with joy at his ability, Dad has become a hermit and looks dishevelled.

He keeps his son on a leash and fills his backpack with rocks to keep him down. Things come to a head, however, when they reach a playground and Alex once more takes flight, prompting Dad to yell “why can’t you just be normal”.

It’s at this point that Dad has an epiphany, cradling his son in his arms, sitting with him on a swing and eventually celebrating his gift and difference.

The tale is as moving as it is uplifting. But it’s also a great source of comfort for any parent who has to deal with a child that may be deemed ‘different’ by society.

As the parent of a child with autism, I found it easy to relate to and moving in the extreme. Pixar’s ability to provoke tears remains intact.

But it also doesn’t shy away from the frustrations and insecurities that come with being a parent, with the only piece of dialogue emerging as an outpouring of suppressed rage. Autism, in particular, can be a very hard thing to deal with – draining and tiring. It can leave you feeling as emotionally beat up as the Dad in the short looks.

But autism also offers plenty to celebrate. The skills a child can possess are amazing and Alex’s ability to float serves as a beautiful metaphor for any of those. And they are worth celebrating.

The moment of bonding between Dad and Alex is truly heart-warming and inspiring. And while reassuring for parents of children with autism, or other related diagnoses, it also serves as a lesson for those who may look upon those differences with confusion or uncertainty.

Rubio deserves immense credit for creating such a beautifully moving short film… a heartfelt, intimate but wide-reaching mini film that deserves to find as wide an audience as possible.