Fantasia International Film Festival: A Costume for Nicolas (2020) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

A Costume for Nicolas (2020) is a cute animated film directed by Eduardo Rivero and written by Miguel Ángel Uriegas. It is important to note that the movie was released by Fotosintesis, which is the cause-driven entertainment label of Mantarraya Productions, which looks to support the efforts of the Special Olympics. This movie has a message, and it wears it on its character’s costumed sleeve. 

Nicolas is a ten-year-old boy with Down Syndrome – and every year, to celebrate his birthday, his mother made him a costume. Unfortunately, his mother passed away, and Nicolas ended up living with his loving grandparents, Mia and Thomas, and his angsty cousin, David. David isn’t thrilled to have his younger cousin as his roommate – plus, he is suffering from nightmares brought on by daddy issues. Nicolas has only one major memento of his mother; an old trunk with all his magical costumes. He discovers a whole world inside that helps as an allegory about the strength that helps build bonds and friendships, both in the real world and in the magical one.

It is unclear who the cast was for the English-dubbed version of the film that I was able to watch. However, the voice cast feels like a lot of kid-friendly educational animated shows you might see on PBS or Disney channel. In other words, this isn’t a film that tries to be “for the kids and the parents equally” but knows who its intended audience is as it looks to really inspire them with its content. It is well made, engaging, and the struggles the characters go through should be enticing enough to pull in the young audience while not being too scared that they may suffer from nightmares. 

The film truly looks great. It is colorful, and the character designs are imaginative. The story is straightforward, and yet the elements of fantasy that enter into it make it feel a little more heightened. His older cousin has nightmares…so what? But…what if there was a monster who fed on nightmares that lived in a magical land? Well, that definitely changes things a bit.

If you have young children at home, then this is definitely a movie worth watching. The messages about finding one’s strength and that people can be differently-abled shines throughout. If you’re an adult who is a fan of animated feature films, then this probably won’t rate that highly on your list of need-to-watch. Still, the thought and craft that went into this film earns A Costume for Nicolas the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.

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