Mini-Zlatan and Uncle Darling {Children’s International Film Festival/CHIFF} – Film Review

Jealousy is one hell of a curse. It often drives perfectly sane people to do wild, out of character things.

For young Ella or ‘Mini-Zlatan’ as coined by her fun uncle Tommy, this couldn’t ring any truer. One summer, the soccer obsessed girl is dropped off at her grandmother’s home to stay, while her neglectful parents take off on an exotic holiday.

Bored by the company of her grandmother and triplet uncles, she flees to Uncle Tommy’s, much to his surprise. Tommy is in the midst of working on a big fashion show but allows his darling niece to stay.

Poor Ella’s world is turned up-side-down when Tommy’s boyfriend Steve, arrives for a visit a few days earlier than expected. As Tommy’s attention is drawn away from Ella and onto Steve, she becomes extremely jealous and decides she must do everything she can to push Steve away and keep Tommy for herself. 

With the help of her only friend Otto, she plans elaborate pranks and cruel tricks to make Steve look bad and tear the couple apart, but it all ends up worse than she could have expected, forcing her to re-think her decisions.

Mini-Zlatan and Uncle Darling is a very sweet and fun film with a quirky twist. I feel it draws a good amount of inspiration from Wes Anderson’s film and production style with bright, bold colours and zany character traits, such as the triplet uncles who all do everything in sync. I thought this was a really fun touch to the film and it gave me laughs several times throughout my viewing.

While the film draws inspiration from Anderson, it’s not a direct rip off attempt as it still has its own style and unique feel with its costumes and less oddball characters. Later I discovered that the film is based on a children’s book and it makes sense to give it a cartoonish look and feel. I commend this creative choice made by director Christian Lo.

To be honest, when I read the blurb for this film, I wasn’t too excited by it. But to my surprise, it was actually a very enjoyable film! The action was really on point and better than expected, especially Agnes Colliander, the young star who plays Ella. She was incredibly expressive and well spoken, showing real emotion in her performance, a huge feat for someone who has only spent around a decade on this planet.

Simon J. Berger’s portrayal of Tommy was energetic and full of passion. I instantly fell in love with his character and could understand the admiration and bond that Ella and Tommy share. They are goofy and comfortable together on screen, sharing a love for sushi, monsters, and karaoke, which drives the narrative so well and makes you really feel for Ella when Steve arrives onto the scene.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t be a numpty like me and write off this film just from the premise. Give it a watch and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the touching story, that offers some great learning experiences for a younger audience and can be used as a launch pad for some simple life lessons.

Mini-Zlatan and Uncle Darling is genuine, has great heart and offers a story on many levels, I can’t recommend it enough!

Mini-Zlatan and Uncle Darling is currently playing as part of of the 2023 Children’s International Film Festival (CHIFF) until June 12.
For more information and ticketing, visit:
https://www.chiff.com.au/films/mini-zlatan-and-uncle-darling

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