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“Nimona” Takes A Risk and Soars In This Beautiful Queer Adventure

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If there was ever a film that serves as the definition of perseverance and acts as the epitome of taking risks, then it would be Nimona. The film which just released on Netflix on June 30 is an animated adaptation of the graphic novel by ND Stevenson and stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed, and Eugene Lee Yang. The story follows an impulsive teenage shapeshifter, Nimona, who takes on being the sidekick of the disgraced knight, Ballister Boldheart in an attempt to clear Ballister’s name. As the truth unfolds about Ballister, the secrets Nimona has been harboring come out into the open. 

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(l-r) Riz Ahmed as Ballister Boldheart and Chloë Grace Moretz as Nimona in Netflix’s “NIMONA”. All Rights Reserved by Netlifx and Annapurna Pictures.

In a complicated time for the LGBTQ+ community and for undervalued creatives in Hollywood, Nimona is a success story. The film went through seven years of production with Blue Sky Studios, but was ultimately being dropped by Disney due to the film’s subject matter before Blue Sky’s closure in 2021. And despite the uncertainty of whether it would be brought to life, the film was soon picked up by Netflix and Annapurna Pictures and we now have the ability to watch a beautifully animated story. 

While much of the film differs greatly from the graphic novel, the core of its story remains the same. Many of the differences made are to the film’s benefit as there are various queer elements that are no longer hidden in subtext and are instead very clear and on display. Between a interracial gay couple to trans allegories, Nimona serves as a proof that an animated film for all ages can portray queer characters and storylines in a way that is fun, touches the heart, and carries thematic weight. 

Chloë Grace Moretz as Nimona in Netflix’s “NIMONA”. All Rights Reserved by Netlifx and Annapurna Pictures.

A major theme that is handled throughout the film is identity and villainizing those who appear or act differently from what’s considered the norm. As anyone would guess, it is a direct comparison to the dangerous treatment of the LGBTQ+ community specifically. More often than not, there is a heavy amount of fear mongering around the community and the way they “behave” in society that is very negative and damaging. Similarly, Nimona has been villainized her entire life for being able to shape shift however she wants despite posing zero harm to anyone and ultimately becoming a victim of hate and harm herself. 

(l-r) Riz Ahmed as Ballister Boldheart and Chloë Grace Moretz as Nimona in Netflix’s “NIMONA”. All Rights Reserved by Netlifx and Annapurna Pictures.

A heavy allegory such as this, however, does not need to be hidden away from younger audiences if it is handled well enough. The film maintains a very honest portrayal of such experiences while also relating strong emotions via intense visuals that tell us immediately how various characters are feeling in any given moment. The animation manages to mix fantasy elements with modern day technology, creating a stunning environment that looks drastically different between daytime and nighttime, or between the Institution and Ballister’s home. Every moment is painted with emotions, whether it’s the high energy obtained through victory or feelings of defeat and being misunderstood. 

Between our main voice acting cast, Moretz, Ahmed, and Yang are phenomenal in their roles and are unrecognizable. Each of them bring out a level of depth for each character and manage to get viewers to feel for them every step of the way. Fun fact? The characters of Ballister and his lover, Ambrosius Goldenloin, had their physical designs altered to resemble Ahmed and Yang once it was announced they’d be voicing both characters. To have two Asian-coded and very queer characters share their love on screen for us is monumental!

(l-r) Eugene Lee Yang as Ambrosius and Riz Ahmed as Ballister Boldheart in Netflix’s “NIMONA”. All Rights Reserved by Netlifx and Annapurna Pictures.

In the event that Nimona wasn’t on your radar or watchlist, hopefully now it is. It’s much too rare that we get to see films that are so confident about the story and characters or the way they present themselves. Nimona is outrageous, full of adventure, and will no doubt pull on your heartstrings by the end. It is a film that everyone, both young and old, need to see. And hopefully, Nimona will continue to pave the way into honest and open filmmaking that takes risks at every turn and inspires us all to be ourselves in the most unapologetic way. After all, one of the best kinds of movies are the ones that tell us we are seen and that we are alone.

Samosa Rating:  

Nimona receives 5 out of 5 Samosas. 

Nimona is now streaming on Netflix.
Runtime: 1h 38m

If you want even more film discussions, reviews, or just some good old recommendations, be sure to follow @samosasandpopcorn on TikTok!

Pooja Chand
Pooja Chand
Known on other platforms as Samosas and Popcorn, Pooja is a movie enthusiast topped with sprinkles of her love for TV. She can typically be found watching anything from the latest blockbuster movie to a feel good anime, and is always ready to start the discussion on movies and TV so you don't have to.

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